Category Archives: The Bal and the Bees

Turkey has one of the highest densities of bee-boxes in the world (five bee boxes per every km squared) and over 9,000 species of flowers. According to Professors Hasan Vural and Süleyman Karaman, 70% of the world’s best flowers for honey are endemic to Turkey. So if you want to go hunting for honey, bees, and beekeeping knowledge there are few places as accessible, hospitable, and absolutely stunning as the Anatolian region. For this reason, (and because personally Turkey has become my home away from home), the bal (honey in Turkey) & the bees is a category exclusively for honey in Turkey posts. Read on and afiyet olsun!

Want to know why we are here? Ask a village shepherd.

Living out here as Kars’ only resident American I face a long string of questions day in and day out that is more than enough to cause a personal existential crisis. Hourly, I am asked:

“Who are you?” “Why are you here?” “What is the purpose of your existence?” Read the rest of this entry

Want to know the meaning of life? Ask a village beekeeper.

Even when flying solo, bees always have the hive mind.

I couldn’t believe it. I had found quite possibly the very last living melified man and he was 115 years-old. This man was on his deathbed, claiming to have kept himself alive over the past few years by eating only his own honey. He was the oldest beekeeper in Turkey, and I would dare say, quite possibly the oldest living beekeeper in the world. He had kept bees during the time of Ataturk, during world wars, during Turkey’s rise and fall as a global power, and during hundreds of Karsian honey seasons. Read the rest of this entry

The Road to Kars: How I Made it Back

Last May, when I quit my job to move to Kars, Turkey to live with nomadic beekeepers, there were three thoughts running through my mind:

1. I have no idea what I am doing.

2. I know no one.

Read the rest of this entry

How to “make it:” on business pitches, lotus leaves, and Kickstarting Balyolu

Photo by Claire Bangser: Our creative genius, and the visionary who helped to breathe life into Balyolu with a video, a message, and a vision. Claire - you inspire me! (

I am staring at a boardroom of strangers. I don’t know who they are, but they include corporate leaders of many businesses including Kiva, Bing, House of Genius, TravelShark, and more. My face is hot, and a rush of deep emotion feels like a fiery liquid – starting in my stomach and moving through all my veins into my face. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry I repeat in my head. But before I know it, I am covering my scrunched up face with a sheet of paper. Scribbled at the bottom of that paper is one phrase: “you’re going to make it.” Read the rest of this entry

Life on the Edge: Bee Boxes, Satan’s Castle, & Cildir

The hive on the ledge.

Vzzzz. The noise passed beneath my sleeve, crawling deeper and deeper into my shirt. Vzzz. Oh no, I thought to myself. Oh. No. My jaw dropped as my face transformed silently into an expression of horror. There it was, a buzzing inside of my bra. I didn’t fear bee stings – even in places where a bee should never access. No, what I actually feared that very moment was the audience watching my every move: the mayor of Cildir, the first place honey winner of Ardahan, and my friend visiting from out of town; three men in a properly conservative corner of Ardahan. Yep. There was no way I could gracefully deal with this situation. (more…)


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