I usually survive the Slovak flu season, which peaks at the turn of January and February, with a raspy throat and a headache that normally eases off after taking a paracetamol and drinking plenty of hot lemon tea.
But this year my husband had brought home a particularly viscious strain of the virus, which caught my immune system completely unawares. I lay down in bed with fever for three days – something that hadn’t happened to me for quite a few years – and even after my temperature had gone down, I felt quite poorly.
My husband had a nasty cough, which he was taking medication for, but what really helped soothe his windpipe was a mug of milk with honey and butter that he drank before going to bed. We were lucky to have a big jar of raw, unprocessed honey from Vargapál‘s farm in Eastern Slovakia, which I’d got when I was researching bee products in Slovakia for my cookbook.On my travels around the country I’d had a chance to learn about a beekeeper’s life, the challenges they face these days, especially when tackling honeybee diseases. I understood how much work goes into procuring high quality honey, how important it is to know the honeybee life cycle, and how crucial the decisions are about moving a bee colony at the right time to ensure the bees always have enough food.
Slovakia has a strong beekeeping tradition. It’s a skill and an occupation passed down from generation to generation within beekeepers’ families. These are wise, industrious people who obviously learn a lot from bees.
As I have found out, beekeepers are extremely open, friendly and hospitable people. They love talking about their passion and sharing the fruits of their labour with guests. Those I have met in Slovakia are nurturers more than profit hunters. I know they would never cheat on their products – it’s a matter of honour, after all.
Since I discovered how delicious, aromatic and life-supporting Slovak honey is, I haven’t bought a cheap alternative in a supermarket.
Trying our honey is definitely something you shouldn’t miss when in Slovakia. There are so many varieties to choose from, like a wild flower honey, a forest or acacia one, a lime tree or sticklewort honey. They will differ in colour, texture and aroma, but also in their nutritional value. The dark honeys typically have a more-proclaimed flavour and a higher content of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Although they’re not always easy to find, there are quite a few honey-farm shops around Slovakia. The pictures above are all from the Vargapál‘s shop in Košice.
7 thoughts on “Honey – our sweet medicine”
Hi. Thank you for your article……, interesting. Do you Vargapal’s contact or website?
this is their website, which also has the beekeeper’s contact details.
If you need help translating something or getting in touch, please let me know and I’ll speak to Mr Vargapal on your behalf.
Sorry, I didnt see the link in your reply.
You’re welcome 🙂
Thank you !
Love to try your recipes, too.
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happy new year !
had contacted the beekeeper several times but to no avail. phone contact is incorrect too. please, help.
thank you very much. have a nice day.
Hi Janet, I’ve just checked the number – it is working. Mr Vargapal says he didn’t receive any emails from you though he admits he gets a lot of spam in his inbox. Could you please contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org with your message for Mr Vargapal and I’ll pass it to him. He may have problems writing in English but I’ll be glad to help.