Beekeeping, gingerbread making and apitourism of young farmer Darja Šolar

Šolar Farm was taken over by young farmer Darja Šolar. The farm is known far and wide not only for beekeeping but also for the maintenance of the traditional craft of gingerbread making. Let us remind you that gingerbread used to be a beekeeper's added value. Gingerbread is a decorative confectionery product that may be a corporate gift or a keepsake, a Christmas tree decoration, etc. The tradition of medieval gingerbread making differs in various European countries. Gingerbread is made similarly to a honey cake (it contains flour, water, honey, but not eggs). The dough is baked in various shapes (heart, horseshoe, horse, etc.) and red paint is applied to it (people used to apply beetroot dye) together with various ornaments, for example small mirrors and inscriptions.

Fragrant honey treats are also made at their bakery. Ema's honey cake with two quality marks is well-known.

They have also developed apitourism within the scope of which they offer a tasting of monofloral honeys and other bee products, fresh gingerbread, honey beverage and honey liqueur, a presentation of gingerbread making, and lectures on beekeeping and apitherapy (acquisition, correct use and storage of bee products). Visitors may establish good psychophysical condition with the help of bees and their products (honey massages, inhaling aerosols from the beehive, a rest by the beehive, etc.) in the apiary in the yard. There is no shortage of ideas and goals on this farm. They have recently opened a shop with modern equipment in new premises in their yard, where customers may continue to buy their numerous bee products.

They have also equipped a bar, packaging unit and a warehouse to store bee products in new premises, which also include a new cooling chamber.

They try to follow new trends, preserving the quality of bee products and satisfy the most demanding of customers.

 

‟“I am a Bachelor of Economics with 12 years' experience in accounting. However, my desire to work with bees and honey grew to the point where I quit my job and decided to embark on a new path. I took over the farm, re-qualified to become a beekeeper, trained to become an apitherapy specialist and honey taster. I have been running our beekeeping farm with 36 years of tradition for the second year.””

(Darja Šolar)

 

Context

The young farmer is a Bachelor of Economics. Years ago, she was captivated by bees and their diligence, persistence and mightiness so much that she decided to quit her job as an accountant after twelve years and embark on a new path.

 

On the basis of a few years' experience in beekeeping, she became a professional beekeeper. She attended an apitherapy course where she obtained knowledge of the acquisition, storage and correct use of bee products. By defending her final thesis on the topic of the immune system, she successful completed her training and became an apitherapy specialist. Recently, she has completed training for honey tasters at the Biotechnical Faculty in Ljubljana. In 2019, she will upgrade her knowledge to become master beekeeper.

 

Objectives

By taking over the farm, she attempted to provide greater economic power and competitiveness of the farm, raise the quality of products as well as care for the environment and to obtain new knowledge by strengthening cultivation and the processing of honey and expanding the range of products and services.

 

Activities

She decided on investment goals that are environmentally acceptable and will contribute to better and simpler beekeeping. They have carried out or plan to carry out the following investments:

- investment in interior beekeeping equipment – cooker for beeswax, larger extractor, etc.;

- purchase of new beehives;

- other investment costs – restoration of the room for extracting and storing honey, setting up and arrangement of a new apiary with insulation at a new location, etc.;

- ICT equipment – personal computer, phone, multifunctional device, etc.

 

Results


- Economic:

Competitiveness improved through combinations of activities and successes.

Increased production capacity

Darja Šolar took over the beekeeping farm with 62 beehives at three locations. Her target was 75 beehives at four locations, while today, she has 130 beehives at seven locations.

Create conditions for a new job

Conditions on Šolar Farm were established for at least one new employment. Darja Šolar became self-employed on the farm in 2017. During the course of investments and activities, she devoted a lot of time to the attainment of goals. Opportunities to collaborate with local and other partners, and individuals in the form of contractual work have been opening up.

Add products and services

Following the so-called best beekeeping practice, the beekeeping path of Šolar Farm is aimed at not only expanding beehive units and providing bee products but also at offering more to people. They have turned the existing apiary in their yard to a three-chamber apiary. Each chamber has its purpose and together they provide an opportunity to rest, relax and take a break from everyday difficult and stressful situations. The chambers are rounded off with natural spruce wood with 20 beehive units. Pleasant honey fragrances and the buzzing of bees coming from beehives fill the chambers, while the tidiness and green surroundings of the chambers have a positive and calming effect on people. At the apiary, you may rest in a massage chair and inhale aerosol from the beehive. You can also lie by the beehives with a view of bees flying in and out of the beehive, where you can completely relax and redirect your thoughts. The apiary is not just a safe home for bees but also a place for aroma and psychotherapy, honey massages and acupuncture surrounded by the pleasant honey fragrance while listening, to, watching and smelling bees. All this is assessed as added value to our products and services in Laško and the wider area. Cleansing honey massages have a positive effect on the body and soul. Honey massage is a method of cleansing the body of heavy metals and toxins and impurities, which are the products and a negative consequence of our industrial society, with minimum costs. All age groups can attend various workshops from painting on beehive panels, pouring wax candles and producing soaps to gingerbread workshops with the emphasis on maintaining the traditional craft.

Innovative products and services

Šolar Farm provides apitourism. The lack of such services in the surrounding area gives them plenty of opportunities to further upgrade and expand the service. All products and services are supported by professional and trained staff.

Enhanced marketing of products

Šolar Farm boosted their production of honey and other bee products, and expanded the range of their bee products. We intend to upgrade our website soon, which will contain all honey products so that they can be bought by customers from more distant places or outside Slovenia.

- Environmental / Climate action:

When carrying out investments and activities, the priority on the farm is to preserve and improve all that needs to be preserved and improved so that they can provide their customers with natural bee products and high-quality services. They are well aware that there is no life without bees. Bees are nature's barometer – they detect that something is wrong much earlier than people and before we know it, they die.

Approximately a third of world's food is plants pollinated by animals, with bees contributing a large share. For this reason, bees are crucial for the survival of mankind. In addition, honey is one of the rare food products people can eat unprocessed. Humans endanger bees particularly by unselective spraying of crops with pesticides.

Use of natural materials

Chambers in a beehive where people may establish good psychophysical condition are treated with natural spruce wood. When carrying out investments and activities, they favour purchasing and using natural materials that do not harm the environment and are environmentally friendly.

Reuse of materials

They are well aware that disposing of waste is the most expensive manner of waste management, which also puts the most strain on the environment. They will continue to constantly separate waste, protecting the environment and saving money at the same time. Separate waste collection means that the recycling circle is complete. Processing means that they protect the environment, as waste is used as a raw material in the production of new products, they use less raw materials and a lot less energy.

- Social:

- Generational renewal of the farm.

- Raising children's awareness of the meaning of pollinators and the manner of honey production (collaboration with a primary school).

- Networking value:

First and foremost, they want to collaborate and connect with local providers so that they can prepare an attractive programme with joint interest, increasing the number of visits to the Municipality of Laško and contribute to rural development and visits. Various development entities in the narrower and wider area (STIK Laško, Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, Celeia Institute, dr. Filip Terč Slovenian Apitherapy Society, etc.) and inclusion in various tourist and promotional projects (Land of Celje, Laško - the Confluence of Good, etc.) would also have an important role. They have already signed a letter of intent with STIK Laško, in which several forms of collaboration are foreseen. Promotion through STIK Laško and collaboration with Thermana Laško and the Rimske Terme Spa. Collaboration is also planned with other beekeepers and nearby educational institutions (Primož Trubar Primary School and Anton Aškerc Primary School).

 

- Transferability:

Experience and knowledge could be passed on at round tables and seminars, where the situation prior to the takeover and now would be shown. The beekeeping farm has been visited by many tourists through the years. We raise their awareness of the meaning of pollinators and the planting of honey plants. We try to give them more information on the world of bees, and inform them how to establish good psychophysical condition with bee products. Darja Šolar has been running a beekeeping class at Laško Primary School for the second year, where she happily passes on her knowledge to children.

The beekeeping farm is an example of best practice with three strong activities, i.e. beekeeping, gingerbread making and apitourism. And it is a good role model for potential beekeepers, as it shows them how to develop a beekeeping farm where you can be self-employed with well-established goals and visions, and hard work.

 

 

Contact

Darja Šolar, Strmca 81a, 3270 Laško

Contact person: Darja Šolar

E-mail: darja.solar@gmail.com

Phone: 00386 40 759 357

Website: http://www.apiturizem.si

Additional info sources, links: https://www.facebook.com/cebelarstvosolar/

Presentation VIDEO

 

Photo copyright: ČZD Kmečki glas d. o. o.

 

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Additional Info

  • Regions: Savinja
  • Fields of project: Social inclusion
  • Measure of RDP 2014-2020: M6.1 – Business start-up aid for young farmers
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