Keeping Bees by Maria Valavani
Foreword: The Mani is a paradise of flowers, some of the finest and purest honeys of all Europe are produced in this area of Greece. If you’ll be visiting for the first time, we highly recommend you purchase and sample some of the locally-produced thyme nectars. These are delicious with fresh bread and butter, or as an accompaniment to renowned cheeses like Gravièra and Fèta from the village of Kampos.
I was asked to write a text about my relationship with the bees in Mani. It’s not always easy to put words into what one feels, but I will try…
We did not have a family tradition of beekeeping, none of my family in the past had ever dealt with bees, I do not know where it comes from, but it was an inner desire that just existed forever. Whilst most other people have an urge to flee when a bee appears, I have the urge to offer it my hand as a resting point.
I was born in Agios Nikolaos in Mani where I spent the first years of elementary school and then wandered off to other places, Kalamata and Athens for the rest of school classes until I finally arrived in Paris where I studied photography.
After several years of working as a professional photographer in Athens, at some point, I decided to come back to my place of origin with my husband, and it was then that I woke up again to the idea of keeping bees… I figured I would have plenty of time, I would be near nature, and I would be doing something I wanted and loved. Why not try…?
I started with a single beehive. I still remember the first group attack that the bees did to me, when I began to infect them and I infinitely infuriated them and made them unnecessarily aggressive, today I have learned, respect and respect me! When the day that is for inspection in bees is a day of meditation for me, it can physically occasionally exhaust me, but my head feels great when I am among bees and flowers.
The place in Mani is offered to deal with the bees, has a relatively hot winter and Spring fills flowers and fragrances everywhere, the bees worship it. Beautiful pictures in nature along with bees give food to my other favorite art, photography, so now I have two favorite occupations, beekeeping and photography and one helps the other.
I enjoy watching and photographing the bees, many times after finishing my work on the hives, I just like to sit on a rock and look at them to go. Everything seems so simple, but if you get to know the world of bees, you will be surprised at how much wisdom and perfection their entire existence is structured, and how important it is to offer them through pollination for the proper functioning of this planet.
I certainly did not have such heavy thoughts when I got my first hive and I came for a permanent establishment in Mani, but I certainly did not regret it. Even the little honey I can make every year from my own bees, from my own bees, is unique and invaluable. But the most important to me is not the honey they give me, it is the calm I feel when I deal with them and my respect that teaches me to keep them.