The last time I really “left” Turkey, I cried for eight days. I cried in the shower, I cried in the bus, I cried at my going away party, and I cried in the airport line, ultimately giving away all of my clothes and comic books to a cleaning lady in the bathroom. (more…)
Never in my life have I not fallen asleep on a plane. Until now. For the entire 2 hours from Istanbul to Kars, I peered out of the window, mapping my future over the rippling snow-covered mountain ranges that lead to Kars. I searched for the familiar landmarks I have been crossing now for years, the major highways, lakes, rivers, valleys, and cities – leading me all the way to one of Turkey’s last frontiers and my home for the next nine months. Read the rest of this entry
It was one of those fall days where autumn sun glowed on the backs of hands and webbed bee wings. Where the air smelled like apples and hazelnuts, and the first dead leaves crunched into brown flakes under our feet. Read the rest of this entry
Creativity knows no bounds when it comes to hive placement in Turkey’s northeast. Built into an attic, balanced upon a rooftop, suspended atop colorful tracks, perched on a tree top, steady above a pile of rocks…hives display local beekeeper’s skills, culture, history, and even a little imagination.
In some cases, the hives are karakovan (traditional bee hives) formed from hollowed Ilhamur tree trunks. Karakovan hives were first placed high up into the trees long before conventional Langstroth hives arrived in the region, and relatives still climb to the hives several times a year for harvest and very light maintenance. The general rule of karakovan is the less you touch them, the better. Karakovan hives origins can be traced to the Caucuses, and they have been used in the northeast as long as almost anyone can remember. A select few ancient beekeepers tell me of a time before karakovan where the bees were kept in rocks. The karakovan hives were introduced as an upgrade in order to protect the bees and hives from bears, and improve harvesting process. When you see how high beekeepers place their hives into the trees, you have to wonder if they also have other motives: like scaring the crap out of their fear-loving Turkish moms. (more…)