HOW DISPLACED PERSONS MANAGED TO TAKE OUT THE APIARY UNDER SHELLING AND CONTINUED THE BUSINESS OF FOUR GENERATIONS
"There are bees - there will be honey", as they say in the Konyushiv family, a real dynasty of beekeepers. Oleksii and Anastasia Konyushiv are beekeepers in the fourth generation, so the love for bees has been instilled since childhood. When the war broke out, the young couple had to move from Luhansk, and then took out the bees. Out of the 200 hives, only 30 were rescued, the rest were affected from shelling. The family settled in Kaniv and is now continuing their great-grandfather's business. They even created their own brand "Konyushina", under which they sell cream honey, candles and cosmetics.
Oleksii is a beekeeper in the fourth generation. Even his great-grandfathers had apiaries, and his parents spent 35 years beekeeping. Oleksii’s great-grandfathers made a lot of products from honey, and even exported abroad.
So it passed from generation to generation, and my husband and I also decided to take on the apiary. At first, this was not the main activity. Oleksii was a professional footballer and played for “Zoria” in Luhansk. Therefore, since childhood, he had been exercising and watched his father work in the apiary.
Parents bought 300 hives in the village Fabrychne, Luhansk Oblast in 2000. And we also started beekeeping in Luhansk.
Apiaries were taken out under shelling
Everything changed in the summer of 2014. We went to friends in Kyiv and never came back. All our things were passed to us by friends, but the bees remained. Only in the summer of next year we managed to take out 30 hives by trucks. Others were hit by shelling.
Our family often changed place of residence. First it was Kyiv, then Uzhhorod, KryvyiRih. Then we lived in a village in Poltava Oblast. We were looking for a place where not only we, but also bees could settle. Subsequently, we learned that Kaniv is famous for the acacia blossoms. Therefore, we decided to move there.
Thus, we began to develop beekeeping and expand. Now we have 200 families of bees. Oleksii's parents live nearby; they have their share of hives in a common apiary. They are certified beekeepers and pass on their knowledge to us.
Manufacture ofcream honey and honey cosmetics
At first, we were only engaged in beekeeping, and then we began to manufacture products, gift sets and realized that there was a demand for it. That's how the brand "Konyushina" was created, which is named after our last name.
In addition to honey, we also produce wax candles, honey-based lip balms. And also we sell royal jelly; this is a substance that bees feed larvae and queens. It is considered to be a bio stimulator for athletes, useful for the immune, cardiovascular and nervous system.
I once came across a video on the Internet and found out about cream honey. On special equipment, solid honey is mixed until it becomes light. This continues for several days. Honey becomes a light mass and does not harden throughout the year. Then we mix it with dried fruits, nuts, berries and chocolate. This is all packed into jars of 50, 100 or 200 grams.
Features of bees
We have received a lot of advice from our parents. For example, you do not need to chase after the amount and quickly collect honey. Insects themselves seal the honeycomb filled with honey, with wax lids. Then a white crust forms on honey, which we cut off before pumping out the honey with a special honey extractor.
In general, sealed honey can be stored for thousands of years. But if you pump it out too quickly, then it quickly turns sour and frets. Therefore, we are waiting for honey to be of good quality.
If you want to do beekeeping, it all starts with buying a beehive. It costs about 1500 UAH. One hive gives 60-80 kg of honey per year. You can also buy a young bee family, it costs 1500 UAH. The main in the family is queen; she is responsible for the posterity and lays eggs. There is also a drone and a bee. The drone is only responsible for procreation - it fertilizes the queen and dies.
Bees are real workers, they carry pollen and honey. When honey plants bloom, bees fly out for nectar. A bee at one time can bring as much nectar as it weighs. Wings are one of the most important working tools, which wear out quickly due to flying, night work under ventilation and the effects of wind. Often a bee dies during flight. It folds its wings and falls down.
Cooperation with farmers
The biggest challenge for us was the farmers and the search for a clean field for bees. The fact is that farmers are poisoning the fields with low-quality chemicals. And if the bee sits on the poison, then the apiary may die. This year there were many of such situations among Ukrainian beekeepers.
To protect ourselves, we registered an apiary in the village council. Therefore, in each village where we go with the apiary, we register that we will be in such a place for so much time. Therefore, when there is a quality field processing - we are informed.
The fact is that we change at least three places over the summer. Due to the different places there are in the summer and different honeycombs. The first is white acacia, it blooms in May. After that, linden blossoms - we go to another place, and then we move for buckwheat or sunflower. This is nomadic beekeeping. We went to Sumy, Kirovohrad or Kaharlitskyi district of Kyiv Oblast for sunflowers.
Cooperation with farmers anywhere is beneficial for both parties. After all, we get honey, and thanks to the bees, they increase the yield of sunflower.
We received a grant and exported to the Emirates
We received a grant and 50 000 UAH from one of the Ukrainian agricultural holdings. We bought beehives, bees as well as equipment.
We rent a workshop in Kaniv with a conveyor belt and dispensers for automatic packaging, where we manufacture products. We are also negotiating with supermarkets. You can already buy our honey in Silpo at the "LavkaTradytsiy".
800 kg of our honey went to the United Arab Emirates. Oleksii collaborated with other beekeepers and they exported honey together.
We plan now to expand our apiaries and enter the foreign market.