I recently spent several days exploring the monasteries of the Fruška Gora area of Serbia. This region is about an hour north of Belgrade.
There are 15 Serbian Orthodox monasteries in the Fruška Gora area. Fruška Gora is also a National Park with beautiful forested hills, and has a peak that is 539 meters (1,768 feet) high. Most of the monasteries of this area were founded and built in the 16th century, with some having history going back a few centuries earlier, and some a bit later. Many of the monasteries keep bees and sell the honey. They also make rakia, a very special and potent (40% alcohol) fruit based alcoholic drink. It is called by some the national drink of Balkan countries, including Serbia.
We had warm sunny days to explore this beautiful region. There are a lot of wineries and fruit orchards in the area. We saw a lot of bees! Up in the hills of the national park, the lime trees were blooming. This is what they call linden trees, and beekeepers had moved their bees to take advantage of the bloom.
There was a variety of methods employed by the beekeepers to transport their hives, but the most eye catching was a large trailer with beehives built into the trailer and a big bee mural.
At one monastery, a nice Serbian man was tending the bees. He didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Serbian, but we still communicated and I watched him do several hive inspections.
These hives were Langstroth but had an inner cover/box ( painted red in photo) that could be used to feed the bees and possibly to introduce a new queen (note the plastic box in the corner). This cover/box has a screened bottom and was filled with newspaper or wood chips. These hives were also unique in the pins that were incorporated into each piece holding the hives together.
I believe the colonies were not very robust because of the unusually wet spring Serbia was experiencing.
The monasteries are very beautiful on the outside, and quite elaborate on the inside. The monks all wear black robes, and often have long grey beards. The chapels smell of incense, and have elaborate frescoes and gold framed paintings of saints hanging on the walls. The monasteries are very well kept up and maintained, although some of the frescoes on the interior walls of the churches are damaged, either due to the passage of time, or at times they were damage during various wars.
Many of the monasteries have a gift shop where they sell religious items, books and postcards. If they keep bees, they sell their honey here.
The Fruska Gora area is gorgeous and I recommend it both for scenery and for beekeeping!