Beekeeping or apiculture is the maintenance of honeybee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans to collect their honey, beeswax and other products. The beekeeper aims to produce large amounts of tasty honey. To this end, apiaries/honeybee yards are situated in protected places, and at the same time, sufficiently exposed to sunlight.
Furthermore, the areas that are chosen must have trees and plants appropriate for bees such as pines, pomegranate trees,myrtles, arbutus, heather, thyme, savory, oregano and sage.
There are two main types of beehives in Messinia:
a) the built boxes of Mani. The boxes (‘thirides’ or ‘therides’- type of cabinets) aresmall square containers, built from stone or clay tiles. The back side was closed with a wooden lid, while the front side was sealed with a tile which had a hole that allowed the entrance or exit of the bees. Τheir roof was flat and covered with tiles or ‘tikles’ (stone tiles). These unique apiaries are still located in the Messinian Mani (Lankada, Kardamili, Niochori) and date back tothe late 18th century A.D.
b) The wooden Standard-Langstroth beehives, named after their inventors. They are wooden boxes/’kouvelia’ which consist of the central space, the base, the roof and the inner frame in which the honeycombs are formed.
The products of beekeeping are honey, beeswax, propolis (gluey material used by bees to cover the walls of the hives), pollen and royal jelly. The extraction/harvest of honey takes place only during spring and summer (May and August) because the rest of the year it may put the life of the hive into danger. The enemies of the bees are the wasp, the bee-eater bird, the caterpillar, the spider, the badger, mice and snakes. According to popular belief, bees are threatened by the ‘evil eye’. Thus, the beekeeper must take various preventive measures.