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Albanian’s love for honey: Facts & figures

Albanian’s love for honey: Facts & figures

Albania's climate and vastly beautiful landscape  provide ideal conditions for beekeeping and so it is not surprising that Albanian honey, especially the chestnut honey, has enormous (economic) potential:

Since more than 2,000 years, apiculture has been a vital part of Albania's rural economies. Beekeeping is a popular subsidiary industry and very much on the rise, especially in the past 20 years:  Back in 1992, the number of beehives was less than 50,000. According to the Albanian Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) this number has grow from about 260,000 in the year 2014 to 303,000 in 2016.

In 2016, Albanian beekeepers produced almost 4.000t of honey. This is still relatively low compared to other european countries - for example, in Germany more than 21.000t were produced in the same year. Yet, compared to the per-capita income in the country, the price is at average 10 EUR/kg relatively high.

But the long tradition of beekeeping and the love for honey and bees in Albania is also reflected in the language: Two different words are used in Albanian when talking about death - one in relation to all animals (ngordh) and one for human beings and bees only (vdes).

Cheese hearts along the Honey Trail

Cheese hearts along the Honey Trail

In addition to bees and honey specialties the Honey Trail offers a wide variety of gastronomic treasures along the way: These delicious cheese hearts for example are served at  the Kuqi organic farm in Marikaj.

The wonderful strawberry tree (honey)

The wonderful strawberry tree (honey)

Der Latin name of the strawberry tree Arbutus unedo reveals all about its key characteristics: The Celtic „Ar” meaning “sour”, „butus” like the bush and finally „unedo”, which stems from the Latin „unum edo” and means „I only eat one”.

At a time when summer comes to an end and nature is preparing for the upcoming winter, the strawberry tree is flowering - in late fall between October and January. Yet, this is also the time when the bees reduce their activities and start hunkering down for the winter. This makes the Arbutus honey such a rare specialty - aside of the taste:  It has a very strong bitter flavor that is loved by gourmets worldwide - Arbutus honey goes very well with cheese.

In Albania, the Arbutus honey is called „Malte mjare“ and since generations it is produced from October to November in der region of Përmet - there in the Vjosa Valley is one of the very few areas in the country where the strawberry tree is widespread. On the Honey Trail in the South of Albania we will visit beekeepers in this area,  offering the opportunity to get a taste of this unique honey and learn more about this specialty.

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