To get to Slovenia from Paris by car one must travel across Germany on something called an Autobahn.
As a passenger, this is a remarkable depressing experience. You are charged 70cents to use the toilet in a ‘rasthaus’ and five days salary will get you a lukewarm coffee. But perhaps worse yet is the never-ending green desert one flies past at 130kmh for 8 hours; field upon field of uninterrupted monoculture.
The sterility of that landscape is truly terrifying.
But once we crossed the border into Slovenia, the gradient picked up and heading into the mountains things began to cheer. Within two minutes my attention was captured by the shplaaat of bug-meets-windshield and suddenly there were birds and butterflies, people tending small fields full of young potatoes, beans and spinach and fields of blossoming wildflowers…
Reassured once again that there still exist places on earth where humans haven’t completely lost it my friends and I roamed about the countryside for several days; walking, fishing, swimming and indulging in the cleanness of the air and the clear blue waters that leak from nearby glaciers.
It didn’t take me long to discover the local beekeeping vibe – for in countryside as abundant as this, the little critters were everywhere – fuelled by the promise of honeysuckle and clover, fruit blossom and wild pasture. Fuzzy bumblebees, wasp-like hornets and my beloved honeybee; her majesty Apis Mellifera.
Unlike the African bees I am so familiar with, the honeybees in this part of the world are known as ‘European honeybees’; incredibly docile creatures in comparison and on several occasions I stumbled across little old men poking about their hives in broad daylight with minimal protective gear… attempt this at home and you are guaranteed a solid dose of venom.
The ‘bee houses’ here are beautiful structures to behold – brightly painted hives stacked tightly together often painted with some sort of cartoon or pattern above the entrance to help the resident bees distinguish the right hive.
Most of these structures could be viewed from public roads or pathways in both the village and countryside settings and each one consisted of a jumble ofwild flowers, herbs and vegetable patches close by that the bees could feast on too; a magnificent display of respect and understanding of the work that the bees do to pollinate so much of our own food.
And so it was that the days flew past with delightful abandon and preparing myself ahead of the long drive back to the ‘real’ world - of traffic jams, sprawling cities and lurid fields of monochrome green I drank in the last drops of abundance, readied my shoulders and took a deep breath...
There is so much work to be done