Bees are among the few insects that have been given a privileged place in mythology. Considered a divine ingredient, honey was a source of temptation not just for the residents of Olympus. Today, Greeks still eat lots of honey. It’s a staple on the kitchen table, not far from the jar of yogurt. Because of the country’s sunny climate and flora, Greek honey is considered one of the best in the world.
Beekeeper Nikos Reppas doesn’t doubt it one second. “The honey is best when the bees forage on rosemary,” he declares. In this field in the Peloponnesian region of Greece, 25,000 bees live in 150 hives. They gather nectar from oregano, thyme and apricot trees. Over the course of the seasons, the countryside changes, as does the taste of the honey. “In April, the horizon is all blue, because of the lavender.”
He tells us about his daily work as we walk through the apiary. As one flowering gives way to another, he moves the hives of the worker bees. His family has devoted itself to beekeeping for 200 years.
It all started in 1817, when five brothers decided to install 1,400 hives in the village of Midea. The passion was handed down from one generation to the next. But after World War ll, almost all the hives were destroyed. Kostas Reppas, Nikos’s father, persevered nonetheless, taking care of the last five that remained.
Today, the Reppas are among the most respected beekeepers in the country, and produce more than 20 tons of honey a year. They have four stores located in different parts of the country.
The son carried on his father’s work with obvious pleasure. “I spend my days here,” he confided, looking around. “It’s my life.”
“Do you know Jean-Paul Gaultier, the designer?” he asked nonchalantly during a conversation. “He buys royal jelly from me every year.” No, it’s not banal, the life of a beekeeper.
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