In Bulgaria’s largest protected area ‘Strandzha’, unique ecosystems and biodiversity are preserved in the Silikosia and Uzunbudjac Natura 2000 areas. Home to around 1,665 species, the forest areas in this region are managed by the Cost State Forestry Enterprise.
The limited forestry activities and the use of unique natural conditions have imposed alternative uses of the old beech forests, where people started to keep bees in 2012. Initially starting with 50 hives, the beekeepers have currently expanded to 130 hives, divided over two apiaries in highly inaccessible locations far away from any human impact. It is therefore that the honey is exceptionally rich in minerals and amino acids, making it attractive with its specific properties: red in colour, slightly astringent in taste, with a hint of wood and caramel. Even during the first five years, the bees produced 15-20 kg honey per hive.
The local bees have developed a strange adaption in the thick forests – instead of gathering nectar from the blossoms, they collect and process the so-called honey dew produced by insects piercing tree-leaf tissue in order to feed. With its specific soil humidity and climate, the honeydew honey is of very high quality and purity.
The honeydew honey production was realised by aid from the EU LIFE+ project ‘Preserve key forest habitats of the lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) in Bulgaria’, executed by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and the Executive Forestry Agency.
A kilogram of honeydew honey costs approximately €7,50 (14 to 15 Bulgarian Lev)