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Girls, Girls, Girls… When it comes to bees, it’s all about the girls!

honeybee

I’m not sure where my fascination with bees comes from but I do know that in traveling around Greece, we often see hives set out along the road, or across a valley. But it wasn’t until we came up close to a site with many bee hives that we’d learn 500,000 or more bees were buzzing around us! What a magical moment.

I stood in awe of the site and the sound. They were all working for the good of the hive!

12 bees will work their entire lifetime to make 1 teaspoon of honey.

Did you know that bees are ALL female with the exception of when they decide to make some of the females into males to mate with the queen once a year!

This and other very interesting stuff is what we learned at our visit at @klios Honey farms, where Klio and her mother run a honey farm with the help of about 300,000 bees and show how bees live and their age old relationship to us.

This is one of the many places we visited Real Greece Travels stops.

It was a delightful morning in the green, flower and tree covered yard.

We were treated to homemade spoon sweets and a lively conversation along with alot of interesting lessons about bees.

The hive is made of worker bees and one queen. When a new queen is raised, the old queen takes part of the hive and starts a new colony.

There are many types of worker bees, the foragers, the feeders, the cleaners,the guards, the nectar processors.

The drones, are produced by unfertilized eggs, in a process called parthenogenesis.Their only job is to try to mate with the queen. Only one can mate with her, the strongest flyer in his only maiden flight of about 60 feet above the hide. He will die after mating. The rest are killed by the worker bees. His sperm will last for up to 5 years in a special organ in the queen’s abdomen. 

The queen will lay up to 2000 eggs a day for the rest of her life. When the hive gets too large, the old queen bee will leave with half the hive and the remaining bees will feed some of the larvae with a special food called the royal jelly and that will turn those larvae into queens. The first queen that emerges will dispose of the rest of the queens since the hive can have only one queen.

Vanilla honey 

Basil was particularly interested in learning about the beloved “Vanilla honey”. The “Vanilla honey” (pine honeydew honey), a product of designated origin (PDO), is a honey produced in Piana, Arkadia from a fir tree. Fir trees do not produce nectar or pollen. Bees do not feed directly on the fir tree.

An insect, Marchalina hellenica, or Scale insect, is a pest that leaves a white dust on fir trees and produces a sugary substance as a byproduct and the bees are very happy to collect it and process it.The resulting honey has an opaque pearly appearance and is highly prized for its flavor and medicinal properties. Very small quantities are produced annually. Because of the dry weather conditions , no honey has been produced and the past few years. The bees and the humans are awaiting the return of the insect.

Since no visit to a Greek home is complete without food, our honey lesson ended with a tasty, honey covered treat. We learned how to make the traditional pastry “dipla”, a fold-over fried doughly treat and enjoyed it with honey, fresh from the hive.

Diples recipe

A traditional simple recipe from Klio’s mom.

  • 1 lb Flour 
  • 6 eggs.
  • You can add 1 tsp of orange zest and 1 tbs of ouzo or any other sweet liquor.

Mix to a stiff dough ball. Add flour until no longer sticky

Let rest for 1 hour.

Cut into small ping-pong size balls

Roll them out into thin circles

Cut the circles into 2 inch strips.

You can fry them in safflower oil or olive oil – test the oil with a small piece of dough. If it starts bubling, your oil is ready, about 300℉.

Use a fork to wrap and keep the thin strips of dough submerged. The trick is to dip the fork for a minute or so in the oil and when you pick up the dough with the fork to pierce it at one and and wrap it around the fork quickly. The process does not take long, 1-2 minutes until it starts browning.

Cover your new creation with honey and enjoy.

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