…In search of bees…how many times have I finished a sentence with that phrase in the last three years. A Georgian man adorned in a bright and colorful ewok costume chases after me, whip in hand, while I pass through a traditional village in search of bees. I drive 8 hours over Azeri deserts brewing with mud volcanoes and cracked flowers, staring nauseously out the window, in search of bees. I fall to my knees before an ancient lake in Armenia, drinking holy water and silenced by its beauty, in search of bees. I float over flowing velvet green carpeted hill-sides in Eastern Turkey, the sounds of cowbells chorusing throughout the valley, in search of bees. I cry in a hospital, blowing my nose on sheep’s wool, wondering how so much could happen all for some great search for bees!
Since coming to Turkey, karakovan hives have fascinated me. However, out in Kars, there have only been a few conventional karakovan hives to pique my imagination. This small handful of the old-school-hollowed-out-trunk-style karakovan hive is mostly for show and tell. Because there is neither a tree culture, nor a large bear-attacking-hive culture (and most hives in Kars come complete with a growling Anatolian Shepard or Kangal), there isn’t much use for the traditional karakovan. However, in response to the high demand for karakovan honey comb, many local beekeepers have found alternative ways to adapt a modern box to produce karakovan honey (they instead use rounded frames or mini cubed frame inserts). But this solution aesthetically and culturally doesn’t fully compare to the looming dark Macaheli karakovan hive cylindrical orbs that I have come to love.* (more…)
The Ten Thousand look more like one hundred. Many are limping, their bodies crumbling beneath the dense vegetation and steep bramble-covered cliffs. We were once an army that so many had feared. Now our rib-cages bulge beneath our torn tunics. Our clothes are loosely held together by tired thread and caked blood. As we near the top of a hill, our bodies droop to the ground, our mouths almost breathing in the mud… until…we see it. It’s true. Smoke. (more…)
Today, I awoke with a craving for gum that tastes like a tree. I admit this is a random desire, particularly since I once purchased this kind of Turkish gum to feed to my foreign friends as a prank. But with my new found love of eating the grassy plants one could find in a town median (thank you Kars), it only seemed right to want to eat a tree now that I am in the forested mountain slopes of Artvin. (more…)
“I am not afraid of dogs,” I tell my group of laughing colleagues, they nod in consent and let me go. I head down the dusty road away from Kuyucuk Lake, away from our small pack of teenage “boys of the state,” away from the hovering smells of barbecued meat. (more…)