Blog Archives

Karakovan Dreaming – the Macaheli Way


Double the fun!

KA-RA-KO-VAN.

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…)

Where the Trees All Have Names: Treekeeping in Macahel


I try on my tree for size...looks like it could be a good fit!

“KIZ!” I hear Hasan call (meaning GIRL! in Turkish). “Would you like to buy this tree?” he asks me, patting a hefty chestnut. Its rooted deep in the ground with felt-like moss growing across its trunk. I think we are doing our usual family style joking, so I give Hasan my prepared reply, “sure, let me call Barak Obama and ask him to send me a check.” (more…)

I’ve Been Framed! Photos and Beekeeping in an Endangered Biosphere


Entrance of the karakovan, into a secret life of bees!

After shivering wet and cold in my bed, I embrace daylight and stumble into Hasan’s kitchen. Men rapidly discuss local politics. I plunk my camera on the table, turn off my ears, and indulge in dripping cheesy corn-flour fondue, homemade yogurt, eggs, and tomatoes. Then I hear a word, “çerçeve”… “frame. I turn on my ears at the sound of a magic honey cue word. (more…)

Access Granted: Entering Turkey’s Macahel


Road tunnels of greenery link the hidden villages of Macahel.

Everything is a cloud. Even the dashboard in front of me sweats from the fog in the dolmuş (minibus). The white layer of fuzz on the windows tells of the cold moisture outside hitting the hot shaking glass of the car. My arms are clammy and I can feel stray pieces of hair, dust particles, and breadcrumbs sticking to my face. I can barely see the front of the car, let alone the cliff’s edge that hugs our wheels. Almost teetering over the edge, we slam to a halt, and the 25 people around me gasp in a series of stifled cries. The 17 day-old baby asleep on my lap wrinkles its nose. (more…)

Tasting Ramazan and other Holy Honey Matters (The Mellified Man & Mumijo)


Camili Muslim worshipers and honey bees have a few things in common, they both love bright colors, flora, and elaborate geometry.

A famous Turkish honey saying, “He who handles honey licks his fingers,” must not have considered he-who-practices-Ramazan, the Muslim holiday of fasting. As we open hives and begin harvesting honey this month, my beekeeper friends look at me miserably, their fingers all sticking without any licking! (more…)

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