Beekeeping to be nominated for UNESCO heritage status

Ljubljana, 25 March - Slovenia is to nominate beekeeping for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The nomination is a reflection of the wealth of the country's beekeeping tradition and is rooted in ecological, sustainable and social aspects of beekeeping, said the government on Thursday.

The Carniolan honey bee native to Slovenia.
Photo: STA

The government beehive.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

Bees move to the government beehive.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

The nomination proposal, titled Beekeeping in Slovenia, A Way of Life, highlights the prevalence of beekeeping skills and practices that have been handed down from generation to generation.

Beekeeping plays an important social and cultural role in Slovenian communities, "which plants it in the realm of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage".

Moreover, the proposal stresses the importance of beekeeping in the pursuit of the Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals and other areas such as education, agriculture, business and tourism.

The nomination is based on intangible heritage elements that were inscribed on Slovenia's Intangible Cultural Heritage list between 2018 and 2020, including beekeeping, painted beehive panels, mobile beekeeping, breeding Carniolan queen bees and apitherapy.

The initiative to nominate beekeeping for the national intangible cultural status emerged in 2015 and gained momentum through efforts to raise awareness about literary, folklore, fine art and architectural heritage of beekeeping.

Under the auspices of the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, the project was then transformed into the proposal for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status, which is supported by the Culture Ministry, Slovenian Ethnographic Museum and Radovljica Beekeeping Museum.

The government gave a go-ahead for the nomination procedure on Wednesday as it tasked the ministry to be in charge of the procedure and authorised Slovenia's Permanent Representative to UNESCO to sign the nomination.

The nomination is thus but completed. The deadline for sending it to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris is 31 March.

There are almost 11,000 beekeepers in Slovenia, who take care of some 200,000 bee families. They breed exclusively the native Carniolan honey bee, a subspecies of the western honey bee. For most of them beekeeping is a hobby, whereas some have also made it their profession.

Beekeeping is a key part of Slovenia's promotional activities abroad. On the country's initiative World Bee Day was declared by the UN in late 2017 and has been observed on 20 May since then.

Slovenia has so far seen four examples of its heritage listed on UNESCO's representative list of intangible cultural heritage - the Škofja Loka Passion Play, the Shrovetide Kurentovanje custom, bobbin lace making, and the art of dry stone walling as part of the international inscription.

© STA, 2021