Beekeeper stories, Bees

White Honey from Kyrgyzstan

Fatima and her son Sultan in Kyrgyzstan have been working with me for the past 4 years, Fatima is well known for supplying the best white mountain Kyrgyzstani honey. Through her I have been lucky to work exclusively with their cooperative beekeepers as they supply Balqees. I’m on my first trip and honesty its only been a day and its amazing. I cant wait to meet our beekeepers deep into the mountainous region of Kyrgyzstan where all that creamy sweet snow flake white honey is produced.
Why so special?
A rich, rare, raw and very pure honey that is white in colour and intensely floral in taste and aroma. Its made solely from the nectar of wild flowers that bloom during the summer in the pristine alpine meadows on the Eastern side of lake Issyk-Kul, amid the Tien-Shan Mountains. You can find more information on the Balqees website.

Beautiful white honey on a piece of bread

 

Creamy white mountain honey …my first sample from this harvest…

Milk (pudding) & Honey, a perfect combination

 

Travelling to the Chuy Region and a small gorge named Chunkurchak…

 

Located at the Alamedin river head, at the distance of 45 km from the capital Bishkek. The National Biosphere Reserve is here to save a rare species of tulips. I didn’t see any tulips, even though they apparently grow to 17cm in height.

Kyrgyzstan is a Central Asian state bordering China and it became independent with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Settled by Kyrgyz tribes from southern Siberia in the 17th century, the area was ruled by various regional powers before coming under Russian, and then Soviet, rule.

Most of its six million people are Turkic-speaking Muslims. (source BBC Country Profile).

Finally I meet the beekeepers and the bees! We travel three and half hours west of Bishkek into the mountains where the beekeepers have brought the hives down from the mountains as its winter to protect the bees and honey from the harsh climate.

I spend time with Grennadiy who tells me about his life. He has been keeping bees for over 35 years. He started work as an engineer and beekeeping was a hobby but as time went on his passion for the practice took over and beekeeping became his profession. Grennadiy is my main beekeeper and his son works with him. They are part of a small collective who face many challenges in maintaining the purity of the white honey.

With Aziz and some of the beekeepers

Gennadiy serves up his beautiful white honey he takes such good care in making sure it remains pure.

Tasting the raw, pure white honey. Unbelievable taste and texture. It doesn’t get much better than this.
I asked Grennadiy to get it off his chest and tell me what his main concerns are and he said its pollution from industry and as that grows in the country he finds he keeps moving his bees to more and more remote areas to find the cleanest places. Then he has the issue of selling the product as he is far from the city and it often means he ends up selling it at a fraction of its true value. The other thing is maintaining the quality of the honey. Some beekeepers add antibiotics to keep the bees ‘healthy’ but of course this isn’t pure anymore and it affects the eating. Grennadiy uses natural remedies like sage to keep his colonies strong.
I hate to leave but on returning to the capital, Bishkek, I hit the markets and seek out some local produce.

Bread making in the open air

Sourcing amazing ingredients
The market, Bishkek
I found almonds, four varieties, local Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Iran. There were so many dried fruits Kyrgyzstan is known for them.  I bought some dried jujube berry fruit. Incredible, took me back to the first time I visited Yemen. The restaurants serve a fruit kompot which is a national drink… delicious and not sweet just right.
Read more of my travels to Kyrgyzstan when I explore the restaurants and share some of the interesting south Asian dishes I tasted in capital. Read my post about the restaurants.