Support for Farmers and Beekeepers in Bulgaria


Linking Nature Protection and
Sustainable Development Project With the support of Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme present SUPPORT FOR FARMERS AND BEEKEEPERS What is sweet and tastes like the sun
and the flowers? It’s bee honey. It’s a well-known fact that honey contains
many amino acids, minerals and vitamins. And the place to find high-quality clean
and pure bee honey is the Balkan Mountain. My father passed beekeeping on to me. He had about fifteen beehives. I graduated
and I went back to Kalofer Eventually my beehives reached 100,
then 200, all certified. We produce mostly honey, bee pollen and bee glue. Bees need energy to survive during the winter;
in the wild they get it from honey. In the organic hives bees also feed
exclusively on the honey they produce. No sugar is added, the bees are not treated
with chemicals and antibiotics and the hives are not painted. Thus Tsvyatko Nachev produces
clean, healthy honey. His hives are set in an acacia grove in the
foothills of the Balkan Mountain, far from humans and pollution. The Nachevs are among the first
certified organic beekeepers in Bulgaria. Our honey is of better quality. We produce significantly less than
beekeepers in the plains. The annual harvest amounts to between
15 – 20 kilograms. Therefore the honey is more expensive. We don’t use antibiotics as such substances
accumulate in the honey. Everything is based on natural products. Producers of traditional foods in the
Balkan Mountain region love nature. They count on it for their income. And they also struggle to preserve it. Teodor Pushkarov says that the clean
environment could provide for a decent life for local communities even in the
most remote areas of Bulgaria. My hives are in the Western Balkan Mountain. They are far from mines, railways,
highways, factories. There’s nothing here, the area is absolutely clean. I really love being around my hives. Nature makes me relax – the song of the birds,
the buzz of the bees… Even when I’m free, I come here.
I don’t mind that it’s my working place too. As a beekeeper I do my best to preserve nature. Apart from the cultural sites, Western Balkan Mountain is characterized by its
cliff formations, green pastures and the high number of small farms. Stoyan Danailov’s herds graze in areas
with high nature value. The sheep maintaining the pastures are
crucial for the survival of endangered birds of prey. Like the Imperial Eagle and the Saker Falcon. Such pastures are typical for our area
of the Balkan Range, Ponor Mountain. They have high nature value. We are within the Natura 2000 network,
so the agri-environmental measures apply here. We need to appreciate the beauty around us. Being inside the protected areas doesn’t
bother the farmers. Their livestock aids the survival of the
wild species that depend on the pastures. Their motivation comes from their respect
for wildlife and nature in general. These small farms are a good example for a
thriving family business within the protected areas. At the same time they keep traditions alive
and help for the preservation of biodiversity. We produce yoghurt and cheese. We don’t give any additives or
chemicals to our animals, so we have truly clean products. In my opinion this is the real value
of food: purity and tradition. It’s the food that our ancestors ate. Recent changes in the legislation now allow
farmers to sell their produce directly on the market. Thus organic produce from nearby
farms can easily reach people’s households. There’s a huge demand. We started the dairy farm recently and
people started calling immediately. It’s natural to look for the real, traditional taste. I recommend sustainable farming –
it’s a way to make an honest living. This opportunity for producers to sell their goods
directly on the market is really helpful. On market days people come back to us,
looking for our products specifically. Our presence there means
high-quality products for them. On the farmers’ market ‘Food from the Balkan’
buyers can try authentic products from small family farms: real yoghurt, goat
and sheep cheese, bee honey and wild berry jam. As a kid, when we finished school
I’d spend the whole summer on the Balkan Mountain with the herds,
together with my brothers and my parents. There were two pairs of eagles…
Imperial Eagles, they call them. Very graceful birds. So, my span is about a meter and a half… Theirs is about two meters. And they’re about a meter high. When they perch on a rock, I often think
it’s a dog or a sheep. No – it’s an eagle.

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