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The oldest known written information about beekeepers keeping wild bees, honey, and wax in hollow trees dates back to the 13th century. Back then, people used honey and wax to pay the church taxes. Also, it could be used to buy additional freedoms. If beekeepers gave away half of all their honey and wax to the landowner, they would receive half a volok of land (approximately 26 acres) and a dismissal from their feudal obligations in return. Since wax was widely used for religious purposes in churches and monasteries, it became one of the main exported goods of Lithuania. This explains the privileges the beekeepers could afford during deeply feudal times.
Now the Dzūkija National Park has 50 remaining tree hollows, out of which 16 were decreed objects of natural heritage. To preserve the traditions of this formerly popular craft for the future generations, a tree beekeeping exhibition and an educational path connecting 6 old and 11 new tree hollows were established near the Village of Musteika, which is renowned for its architecture and traditions.
Led by a beekeeper you can visit the local apiary, where you will witness beekeepers caring for the bees in hollow logs, handling honey and wax, and making hollow log beehives and small bait hives called ‘vabikas’ to lure swarms. You can taste fresh honey, try your hand at crafting and get familiar with the old Village of Musteika and its surroundings.
The educational trail, which lies 5 km away from the village, is 3.3 km in length and will take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete. While taking a walk along this pathway, you will see many pines with hollows reminiscent of one of the oldest businesses in the region. The pathway also offers a mosaic of sandy dunes and small wetlands that are inherent to the region of Musteika Village. You will learn many interesting facts about the history of beekeeping and will be able to appreciate the hard work of the local beekeepers. The ancient beekeeping exhibition also has a variety of ancient beehives. The forests around Musteika have many hollow pine trees that were used to keep bees in the past.
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