Expanding good practice
The BEE PATH was created as part of activities during the project Green capitals of Europe 2016. It was created as a learning path where visitors learn about the beekeeping heritage in Ljubljana and of the importance of bees for our survival. This innovative approach presents a big tourist potential, it increases the recognition of local suppliers and products from the area of beekeeping as well as introducing Ljubljana honey as a recognised and independent product.
To the present day, the BEE PATH has united 32 partners from cultural and educational institutions to companies, non-governmental organisations and beekeepers as well as created tourist and educational programmes.
In 2017 we received recognition for the BEE PATH project as a good practice example in an URBACT tender out of 300 applicant cities.
As holders of the URBACT Best Practice Award, we (City of Ljubljana) could apply together with partners for the tender URBACT Network Transfer. As the lead partner, we prepared an application for a good practice transfer named BeePathNet and at the beginning of April 2018, we were selected into the group of 25 confirmed transfers of good practices. Together with five partners, we were also successful with our application for the project 2nd phase which will last from the 4.12.2018 – 4.12.2020 for which we will receive 600.000 euro in two and a half years.
Elements of development of the Ljubljana Bee Path
The development of the BEE PATH was a step by step process built on seven key elements:
Key element 1 - Clear focus: The key focus of the BEE PATH is beekeeping in an urban city area and programs for its residents and tourists in the city centre (culture, environment, promotion, marketing, honey products …). Special emphasis is also given to the development of beekeeping in the rural areas of the Municipality of Ljubljana where the main focus is on food production and food supply for the city.
Key element 2 - Key person: As mentioned above and in the previous chapter, beekeeping was, to a varying extent, always part of the Ljubljana culture and tradition. However, the key milestone for the BEE PATH was the enthusiasm and active initiative of Ms. Maruška Markovčič, senior advisor at the Sector for Rural Development at the Department of Environmental Protection of the City of Ljubljana. The development of the Ljubljana BEE PATH grew from her personal beliefs and became a part of her official tasks in her professional work. This also means that it is essential for the City to ensure financial support for such initiatives (secured salary).
Key element 3 - Historical and current evidence on bees and beekeeping: It is important to establish a foundation for any such initiative. This is why the staff searched for all historical and current evidence on beekeeping and bees in Ljubljana. Any connection between bees1 and any aspects of daily life in Ljubljana – such as ethnography, culture, the environment, architecture, economy, geography, etc., was taken into account. All such links, documents and information are an important source for any promotional activities at a later stage.
Key element 4 – Honey products - connecting city beekeepers: We invited beekeepers from Ljubljana and beekeeper’s associations to discuss the key opportunities and problems of beekeeping in the city. They are the key group of stakeholders, as they produce honey products.
Key element 5 – Bee-related activities - connecting institutions and companies: A key focus of the project is on residents and tourists in the urban area. Subsequently, institutions such as museums, companies, NGOs, etc. are also a very important group of BEE PATH members. They organize exhibitions and events, promote their “green orientation” through their public relations activities, set up beehives on their business building roofs, etc.
Key element 6 – Knowledge transfer – connecting educational and expert organisations and institutions: Institutions such as Faculties and other expert organizations in the field of agriculture, architecture, the environment, etc. bring new knowledge and can actively support members in solving professional challenges.
Key element 7 – Strong support of the city administration: First of all, the role of the city administration is political – to promote and take actions connected to beekeeping. Its secondary role is technical - adopting legislation and procedures that support bee-friendly projects. Nevertheless, by providing funds for projects, its’ role is also financial.
Today, the BEE PATH became the synonym for all activities linked to bees and beekeeping in Ljubljana. It is operating in the City of Ljubljana, but we believe that the BEE PATH's impact area (at least to some extent) covers the whole Ljubljana Urban Region.
Beekeeping in Slovenia
In 1873, the Carniolan Association for Prudent Beekeeping was established in Ljubljana, which represents the beginning of the organization of the Slovenian beekeepers. Today the beekeeping organization is known as the Slovenian Beekeeper’s Association (http://www.czs.si/wp/). It includes 207 beekeeping societies and 14 regional beekeeping associations, with a total of about 7,500 beekeepers. Its main tasks include the education and training of beekeepers in the framework of lifelong learning, publishing the Slovenian Beekeeper monthly and various technical books, the preparation of exhibitions, discussions and symposiums, the organization of school clubs, beekeeping camps and workshops, raising the public awareness about the importance of bees in the preservation of the environment, the promotion of bee products in healthy nutrition, etc.
Bees and beekeeping are key for ensuring food security, as well as for preserving the entire ecosystem and natural biodiversity and, with four beekeepers per 1000 inhabitants, Slovenes are truly a nation of beekeepers. Slovenia is also undertaking important efforts to preserve and protect bees throughout the European Union. Public awareness plays an important role and we attach great importance to young people. In 2006, the “Slovenian Beekeepers’ Honey for Breakfast in Kindergartens and Schools” was initiated as a healthy lifestyle and high-quality food standard on a national level. In 2014 it was successfully transferred to the EU level and presented as the European Honey Breakfast at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels. The initiative was warmly welcomed by many ministers and the former Commissioner of Agriculture. Besides the EU Member States, candidate countries for accession to the EU and third countries have also shown an interest in participating. This was also an important, almost “groundbreaking” step for the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association's initiative for the proclamation of World Bee Day within the framework of the United Nations. And this was again successful, as in December 2017, the United Nations proclaimed May 20th as World Bee Day.