Sweet as honey
Busy bees are preparing for the Kalopanayiotis Honey Festival
At 57 years old, Mr Christodoulou knows how best he likes to spend his time. With his bees. “When it’s just me and the bees in the middle of the mountains, I feel like I have a direct line to God,” he says. “It’s the only way to describe it.”
A Beekeeper for 30 years, Mr Christodoulou knows the profession inside out.
“You could blindfold me next to the beehive and I could tell you which flowers were blooming, through sense of smell.”
He has 500 beehives after continuing the family business of his father in law and he cannot imagine doing anything else. He uses a nomadic system, moving the hives across the Marathasa region, according to which flowers and plants are blooming in which season.
He doesn’t have a favourite honey. He says he likes them all. In spring he enjoys honey from the blossom of citrus trees, in summer honey from thyme and in winter from the mountain plants.
As president of the Beekeepers Association in Cyprus, Mr Christodoulou often teaches about the profession at universities. But recently he has devoted much of his time to organizing this month’s honey festival in Kalopanayiotis. Of course, his honey and many others will be on display and available to taste and buy, but there will also be lectures for consumers, fellow beekeepers, and those who work in medicine.
“Honey is a magical substance. It has a long healing history,” Mr Christodoulou says. Indeed, the spa will be offering a variety of honey based treatments during the week of the festival. “Did you know that Alexander the Great always carried honey? Not to eat, but to heal his soldiers' wounds quickly and kill infection.”
Plans for the festival also include entertainment for children, with traditional puppet performances. Of course the main character is a beekeeper and Casale Panayiotis’ chefs will be holding an exhibition on how to use honey in cooking too.
Mr Christodoulou says the best tasting honey, is the honey from the beekeeper that doesn’t cut corners, use substitutes or carry out unorthodox practices. He has great respect for bees. “You can’t command a bee. A bee demands respect and they know if you respect them or not. They can sense it,” he says. “That’s why it’s so important to approach them with love and care.”
He is proud that children in the region are educated at school about the importance of the insects at a time when they are threatened in so many parts of the world.
“In China, the decline of wild bees has led to apple farmers pollinating by hand. I will not let this happen in Cyprus. Cypriot honey according to the Roman poet Virgil was the food of the ancient Greek Gods. Now it’s an integral part of our lives and these mountains. We mustn’t let that change”
For Mr Christodoulou, bees are mother nature. He says the only way he can sum up how he feels about them is with a quote he saw attributed to Albert Einstein.
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
And no more dream job for Mr Christodoulou. Thank goodness we still have bees, honey and this month’s festival.
The Honey Festival is being held in the village of Kalopanayiotis from 27th – 29th October.