Caucasian Mountain Honey

The mild climatic conditions in the mountainous and middle mountainous areas of North-Western part of Azerbaijan allowed the development of wild beekeeping tradition, called “tekne”, since ancient times. Tekne is a hollowed wooden log, a replication of the natural habitat of the bees in trees. They are mainly carved from soft trees, traditionally linden or alder. Sizes of wood logs vary between 1 and 1.50 meters in length and 40-50 centimetres in diameter. The log is cut in half then carved to create a space for the bees. After both parts are tucked tightly and the entrance hole is made, the bee family is placed inside to settle in. Teknes are usually placed at an altitude between 600-800 meters, where the flora allows the bees to collect pollen from chestnut, apple, pears and peach trees. Honey is collected once a year, usually during last week of July. The amount of collected honey is around 1-3 kg per hive. Tekne honey is usually darker in colour and denser, the taste is more intense too.

After the wide introduction of frame hives in the 19th century, tekne hives, less productive, were increasingly replaced, and wild beekeeping techniques became rare. Additional wax foundation present in unstrained honey produced with honeycombs makes its flavour more familiar and pleasant to modern taste. Making of tekne hives is also more expensive compared to the modern approach. Therefore, currently only few beekeepers in mountain regions of North-Western Azerbaijan are preserving tekne beekeeping method.

Tekne hives were always home for the Caucasian Mountain Grey honeybee (Apis mellifera caucasica) — local breed of the Caucasian Mountains with a longer tongue, which enables to get nectar from more types of flowers and in larger volumes, and other particular characteristics that allow them to fly better in cooler conditions and overwinter. Despite these qualities, its high resistance and its docility, less and less Azerbaijani beekeepers choose this breed over others.

The revival of ancient tekne method should go hand in hand with safeguarding of Caucasian Mountain Grey honeybee. The Presidium engages beekeepers who are motivated to produce high quality mountain honey, either with the traditional Tekne method or with the Caucasian Mountain Grey honeybee or, ideally, both. The production protocol signed by producers respects the insects and the ecosystem in which the apoids are raised and establishes the full adherence to the traditional production techniques of honey harvesting and processing.