Radovljica is a small city that’s close to the popular Slovenian lake town of Bled. It has a well-preserved Medieval square, with many authentic Medieval-era buildings lining it. Dominating the square is the large Radovljica Mansion that’s home to several interesting museums, including the Museum of Apiculture.
The Museum of Apiculture was founded in 1959 by the Beekeepers’ Association of Slovenia. The purpose of the museum was to collect records and artefacts documenting the traditional practice of beekeeping, and to help preserve this heritage. The museum was incorporated into Radovljica Municipality Museums in 1963.
Beekeeping in Slovenia was at its peak in the 18th and 19th centuries, although Slovenian honey and bee products remain popular to this day. The museum’s exhibits represent several aspects of Slovenian beekeeping: 1) an indigenous species of Slovenian bee and their care, 2) world renowned beekeepers (like Anton Janšaand Peter Pavel Glaver), and especially fascinating to me, 3) painted beehive panels, folk-art which is unique to Slovenia.
The painted beehive panels were used to decorate and identify beehives and became a popular tradition in Slovenia, especially around the Slovenian Alps. The folk art on these panels is an admixture of religious themes (older panels) and secular themes (more recent panels). Though less common today, some Slovenian beekeepers still decorate their hives with art.
Equally interesting were some of the elaborate beehives crafted and used in Slovenia, including mini-bee mansions and figures of humans and animals carved from logs.
The technical section of the museum shows aspects of raising bees, tools used for smoking out bees, drawing honey from the hive, etc. The technical aspects of bee care were beyond my level of expertise and interest. The biological room shares information about the bees and how they live in a modern environment.
There is a functioning beehive in the Museum, with bees flying in and out of a hole in the adjoining window. It’s an excellent opportunity to study the behavior of a hive. Bees are still kept in Slovenia for their honey, wax and lucrative by-products such as pollen and royal jelly.
I enjoyed this museum, which taught me a lot about the fascinating history of bee-keeping in Slovenia.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)