The Distinctive Black Beehives of Turkey’s ‘Honey Forest’

By | November 16, 2020
The Distinctive Black Beehives of Turkey’s ‘Honey Forest’

The Distinctive Black Beehives of Turkey’s ‘Honey Forest’

On the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with journey restrictions in place worldwide, we launched a brand new sequence — The World By way of a Lens — by which photojournalists assist transport you, just about, to a few of our planet’s most lovely and intriguing locations. This week, Sarah Pannell shares a group of photos from the Turkish province of Rize.


The small city of Camlihemsin sits within the mountainous province of Rize, in northeastern Turkey, some 10 miles inland from the Black Sea. Constructed alongside the banks of the Firtina River, which runs by way of one of many province’s steep-sided valleys, the city is a key level of entry to the encircling Kackar Mountains. It is usually house to a group of Hemshin individuals, an ethnic minority originating from Armenia who maintain a particular custom: black hive beekeeping.

Since their arrival in Rize lots of of years in the past, the Hemshin individuals have settled in numerous locations all through the province — close to the city of Camlihemsin, and in smaller villages additional up the mountain. Many select to relocate in accordance with the temperature. In the course of the cooler months, they reside in villages which vary in elevation from about 300 toes to about 1,600 toes, and within the warmth of summer season they transfer to their properties on increased plateaus, which sit up at round 6,500 toes.

Towering over the man-made settlements are the bushes of the fabled Honey Forest, or Bal Ormani, which covers the slopes of the encircling valley. Nestled among the many chestnuts, lindens and acacias that develop there are the prized hornbeam bushes, which have been used for generations to maintain bees.

Excessive above the forest flooring, out of the attain of any sweet-toothed bears, the hornbeam performs host to the black hives, or karakovan, which can be famed amongst beekeepers the world over. Made from sections of hollowed-out logs, the black hives are positioned on small platforms which have been secured to the trunk and limbs of the tree. In contrast to the hives utilized in fashionable migratory beekeeping, these hives will stay right here all yr lengthy. They are going to be cleaned at the start of summer season, and the honey produced by the Caucasian honey bees — Apis mellifera caucasia — might be collected towards the tip of the season.

Historically, these hives had been managed by the lads of the group, with every man being answerable for round 5 hives. However that customized is evolving. Hemshin ladies at the moment are being taught these age-old beekeeping practices, within the hopes that they may play an important function in preserving the traditions of their individuals. One such lady, Özlem Erol, takes half within the hive administration. She demonstrated the beekeeping expertise she had realized and in addition spoke of Moyy Atolye, her studio which employs native craftswomen to make house wares and attire utilizing modern variations of conventional designs. Her efforts are a key a part of the latest motion to safeguard Hemshin tradition towards the specter of an exploding tourism trade.

On the drive into Camlihemsin, this incursion was evident. The as soon as quiet single-lane cobblestone roads that led into the forest had been changed by a two-lane concrete freeway designed to accommodate hundreds of vacationer buses. The guests come to journey white-water rapids and zoom alongside zip traces which have been constructed throughout the valley. The location of this freeway visibly upset Ms. Erol, who defined that it caters to a form of tourism that’s not related in any significant method to native Hemshin tradition. It additionally threatens the quiet beekeeping traditions which have been a treasured lifestyle right here for lots of of years.

The endangerment and potential erasure of traditions in a distant space of Turkey are, after all, consultant of a lot bigger points. Throughout the globe, the cultures of ethnic minority teams are beneath risk on account of geopolitical methods and financial improvement, that are apt to repurpose land and assets towards extra worthwhile — and sometimes much less conventional — ends.

However rising tourism industries may also pose a hazard to the animals. In mild of the present decline in world bee populations, conserving the species of bee stored in and round Camlihemsin is essential within the battle for biodiversity. The arrival of highways and vacationer points of interest portend attainable habitat loss sooner or later.

The Black Sea’s Caucasian honey bee is only one of many sorts that make up the wide-range of bee species present in Turkey. Every is crucial for the well being of present ecosystems and every should resist the forces of illness, local weather change and environmental catastrophe.

Right here we discover a commonality between the Hemshin individuals and their bees: Each battle towards homogenization — one for the survival of its tradition, and the opposite only for survival.

Sarah Pannell is a documentary photographer primarily based in Melbourne. You’ll be able to comply with her work on Instagram.

Nic Dowse, who traveled to Camlihemsin with Ms. Pannell and collaborated along with her on this venture, is the founding father of Honey Fingers, a Melbourne-based beekeeping observe.

Daniel Milroy Maher is an arts and tradition author primarily based in London. You’ll be able to comply with his work on Instagram.


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