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Sunday, November 20, 2011

A traditional beekeeper's story


At the time, in the early 20th century, every household had to produce what it consumed so that it could be completely self-sufficient. Sugar was unknown to households and honey was a rare treat and the base of every sweet concoction, as well as being used for its high nutritional value. Given its value as a commodity, anyone who produced honey was considered privileged.

My grandfather Vassilis Paouris also produced honey, in his turn. He also survived two world wars - all six of his brothers were killed in the second -and an occupation. These events took their inevitable toll on his honey production. Meanwhile, he was a proud and strong man, who scorned the rapid developments that were taking place in the field and which were changing the landscape of beekeeping worldwide. When he saw the ease with which one young and inexperienced beekeeper extracted the honey from his hives, in just a few hours when it would have taken my grandfather days, he understood that developments had passed him by.

The baton was then passed onto my father, Giorgos Paouris. He is among the first beekeepers on the island who modernized his apiary with European-type hives and adopted new, cutting-edge techniques and methods, paving the way for others. Over the course of many years, first with his brother and then alone, he made an invaluable contribution to the evolution of the art of beekeeping on the island. Standing by his side ever since we were children, my brother and I helped and learned some of the steps of the process along the way.  I am the next link in this chain. Through all the hard work that toughened us up but also made us despair when we were small, a love for beekeeping began to take root. Hands-on knowledge, of course, is not always enough, so I sought the right theoretical background by attending relevant seminars. But, evolution never stops, and neither does the quest for knowledge.

Stamatis Paouris
Traditional Beekeeper

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