Turkish Honey Tips and Facts to Celebrate World Bee Day in the Ecosystem
This date coincides with the birthday of Slovenian beekeeper Anton Jansa, considered a pioneer of modern beekeeping techniques. Slovenia is also the country that has asked the United Nations to make this day the official day for bees and other pollinating insects such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, which are extremely important to the global ecosystem but are increasingly threatened by human activities.
Pollination is vital to the survival of our ecosystems, as nearly 90% of the world’s wildflower species, 75% of the world’s food crops, and 35% of the world’s farmland depend on pollinators, increasing their greatest work in the world for food supply and biodiversity . Unfortunately, climate change and development are threatening their habitats in catastrophic ways, which is why this awareness day is so important.
Lucky Honey from Türkiye
In Türkiye, honey has always been a precious commodity, with a history stretching back thousands of years, as evidenced by bee coins found in ancient Ephesus and a mention of the product in Homer’s epic, the Iliad ‘Every wandering in the forest or a picturesque view of the pristine hills of nature would, for the Turks, provide sufficient evidence of the popularity of the beekeeping profession from the light boxes of the beehive, and thus the abundance of this liquid gold. In Turkish
, “ballı”, which translates to “with honey” in English, indicates that someone is particularly “lucky”, such as in the case of a lottery winner.
Honey in Turkish Culinary Tradition
Honey is prized for both its role in the kitchen and for its medicinal properties and is certainly a precious commodity here in Turkey that most families have on hand. It is usually a staple of a Turkish breakfast and is often accompanied by butter or, better still, buffalo cream (called kaymak) and spread generously on freshly baked bread. Honey is the main ingredient of Türkiye’s most popular ice cream flavor, Ballı
Badem, a delicious blend of crunchy almonds and you guessed it baby. Additionally, it can be used as a sweetener in candies and pastries, and as a syrup to pour over baklava.It is also used to prepare the spicy Ottoman dish Ballı Mahmudiye, named after the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I himself, which contains honey and dried fruit with chicken.
Türkiye’s honey production
There are no less than 25 geographically patented types of honey in Türkiye, which also has nearly 9 million hives in operation as denoted by the Turkish Statistical Institution (TurkStat) in 2022 and listed on a special honey map of the country prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and accessible on balharitasi.tarimorman.gov.tr. The average annual amount of honey produced per hive is 12.8 kilograms (around 28 pounds), while Türkiye produces nearly 115,000 tons annually. While Muğla is the province home to the highest number of hives at nearly 1 million, Adana produces the best value per hive, with each hive making 25.6 kilograms on average, followed by Çanakkale province where the average is 24.2 kilograms and Sivas at 18.8 kilograms. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Adana produces the highest amount of honey in the nation.
At 92%, Türkiye produces the highest amount of pine honey in the world, while the most prevalent variation within the nation is undisputedly flower honey, in Turkish “çiçek balı.” Türkiye also produces the most expensive honey in the world as the Guinness World Records established in 2021, naming Centauri honey sold at upwards of $11,000 per kilogram as the world’s most prized honey variety. This medicinal honey is produced in an uninhabited region of the Black Sea coast of Sile and in caves that are at approximately 2,000- 3,000 meters above sea level and only accessible through the efforts of skilled rock climbers, who can typically only extract 10 to 15 kilograms each year.
The most touristic region for honey is Muğla’s Köyçeğiz, a spectacular slice of nature with indigenous liquid amber forests, mountains and creeks that surrounds the Köyçeğiz Lake that feeds into the Dalyan River and Iztuzu Beach of the Aegean Sea. The quaint town of Köyçeğiz makes for an excellent stop to relax at any of the cafes along the lake, visit the bustling and prolific farmers’ market, which is also visitable by boat trips setting out from the expat hub of Dalyan, and to of course peruse the vast selection of honey that happens to be on offer in this region. From lavender to thyme and to citrus and you name it, there are dozens of varieties of monoflower honey that can be purchased in town or in shops housed in nomadic tents set up along the highway.
A word of warning for Türkiye’s “deli bal,” which in English mean “crazy honey,” as found in the Kaçkar Mountains and revered for its medicinal properties. It also contains a neurotoxin that can lead to hallucinations and nausea when consumed in abundance as evidenced by a poor bear who hit the headlines for being found intoxicated after having excessively consumed this type of honey.
Workshops for the kids
Meanwhile, the supermarket chain Migros will be offering 175 different events in honor of World Bee Day that will be held in their family club center, (Aile Kulüplerinde) until May 26. Geared toward children and their families, the events will include workshops, seminars, storytelling and cooking classes all centered around themes involving honey and the precious bee.