Posted by: viewfromtheriva | June 26, 2009

The beekeeper of Solta

goran in the hivesBeekeeping and honey have been an intrinsic part of Croatia for thousands of years and today on the legendary island of Solta we were thrilled to meet Goran Tvrdic, a third generation beekeeper who is keeping the tradition alive using methods that haven’t changed since ancient times.

Goran lives in a gorgeous part of the island overlooking the sea.  His wonderful house, surrounded by his own olive grove and hives, lush plantings and a beautiful garden, is an obvious labor of love.  Tucked into the first floor is a simple shop where you can buy his sensational honey and learn about the tradition of bee keeping.  A few meters away are the hives, one of which is behind glass so it can be brought to a viewing table to enjoy.

Like fine vintage wines, honey is as varied as nature.  Although we all like to think honey comes from one particular flower, Goran points out that this is just legend…in fact there is only one honey in the entire world that actually is recognized by name:  Olintha, which is honey made from rosemary which grows prolifically here.

Most Americans are used to clover honey, orange blossom honey and other recongizable types.  Not so fast, Goran told us, since bees are wild creatures although their hives may be placed in the middle of such fields or groves, they pick up nectar and pollen from all over.

In fact, to make just a kilo of honey it takes 20,000 bees flying 50,000 kilometers stopping to check out more than 2,000,000 flowers.

When I lived in Russia, where honey is also legendary, there were annual honey festivals that drew beekeepers from all across the country–most spending days on the train bringing their precious cargo across ll time zones. So I was able to “talk honey” with Goran and we both enjoyed swapping some stories of our experiences.

Goran’s rosemary Olintha honey and his other honey products, some with pollen, comb honey and more, are divine.  And at less than 30kn for a nice fat jar, a bargain.

Living from nature, Goran and his family have little interest in making it big. Like so many who live off the land here on Solta, if you are lucky enough to find his house, you are welcomed like a friend.  If not, the small amount he harvests each year is sold to enough local people and others who know where to come to keep him smiling.

But he is getting worried.  Some hives are being lost.  Fewer hives are being kept.  The only real enemy of a hive is when bees bring in something alien that can destroy it.  Chemical fertlizer added to the fields is a real danger.

A local example of what is being lost is the once lavender covered hills of Hvar.  They are fast disappearing and lavender honey is simply not being made.

Fortunately, Goran’s  hives are healthy and by paying careful attention to keep them as close to pure nature as possible, he hopes they will remain so.

If you take the ferry to Solta, go to the small farmer’s market on the way to Gorne Seljo.  His wife is usually there behind a home made wooden booth selling her family’s sweet pride.  And if you want to visit the shop and meet Goran, ask her how to get there.

There are some things you just have to do for yourself.

Check out the new Croatian vacation portal

Goran ready to show beesbees behind glass



  1. I would love to try some of the rosemary honey.

  2. […] […]

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