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A Guide to Bulgarian Honey

For centuries, honey has been revered as a gift from nature – its perfect natural food. In Roman times it was used as a means of currency to pay taxes, in Ancient Greece, girls would dip their fingers into honey before their wedding to ensure a sweet married life and virtually all around the world honey has been used for its medicinal properties. The key feature for lucrative honey production is a rich, diverse plant life coupled with a temperate climate and despite Bulgaria’s small land mass; it offers the perfect conditions for honey production.

Honey Production Bulgaria is a long-established exporter of honey; honey exports account for half of all honey produced in the country and it is not multinational conglomerates who dominate the Bulgarian honey market; honey production here remains in private hands and is run more as a cottage industry rather than a commercial concern. There are associations for bee keepers and honey traders and some individuals have lucrative contracts with a number of food processing companies. Bulgaria produces around 9,000 tons of honey and the largest volume is produced in Veliko Tarnovo. In the Seventies, Bulgaria’s annual honey production amounted to 17,000 tons, but bee diseases and predators had a detrimental effect on the output of bee swarms.

Exports

Bee honey is an important Bulgarian export respected all over the world. It is of a distinctly superior quality than honey produced in other European countries and this probably explains why the majority of Bulgaria’s honey is exported to the European Union, with Japan, America and some of the Arab states acting as secondary markets. Germany is the largest consumer of Bulgarian honey in the EU closely followed by Spain and France.

Medicinal Properties

Honey has proven healing qualities and is still a popular medication in Bulgaria for the treatment of sore throats, coughs and colds and as an antiseptic. Bulgarian acacia honey is perfect for the treatment of cardio-vascular diseases, whilst coriander honey aids the treatment of asthma. Thistle honey is good for the immune system and improves potency. Honey is also known to enhance mental activity and regulate blood pressure because it contains more vitamins, irreplaceable amino acids, ferments and minerals than meat, eggs or cheese.

Possibly the best honey treatment comes from a little known brand produced in Tsarevo on the coast.  Mana honey is acquired from the nearby Stranzha oak forests and as a consequence contains up to 9 times more vitamins and minerals than honey made from flower nectar. Both Austria and Germany are the main importers of this brand of Bulgarian honey. This brand of honey is perfect for treating disorders of the respiratory tract, anemia, the heart, the immune system and brain and retina hemorrhages. The honey comes from bees collecting the small black droplets of mildew which form as the acorns ripen.

Varieties of Bulgarian Honey

There are so many varieties of Bulgarian honey all with distinct flavours and aromas.

 

Acacia Bee Honey is collected during the spring entirely from the nectar of the best acacia forests in Bulgaria. It is a thick liquid with a very light almost transparent colour and its taste is of a sweet vanilla and almond flavour.

Lime Tree Honey is collected in the late spring and early summer from lime tree blossom. It looks like liquid gold and has a sweet, fresh taste.

Polyflora Bee Honey is the most popular honey produced in Bulgaria. It is collected from a wide variety of wild, pollen-rich flowers and has a herbal taste.

Sunflower Bee Honey is collected during the summer months and is a bright yellow colour. Unlike most honey this one does not have an overly sweet taste.

Coriander Bee Honey is another popular Bulgarian honey. It is collected from the nectar produced by the white coriander blossoms. It has a golden yellow colour and a mild aroma.

Forest Honey is collected from the dew formed on deciduous and coniferous trees. It is dark in colour and extremely rich in minerals.

Where to Buy

Honey is sold everywhere in Bulgaria, but the best place to buy it is at the many open air food markets. Local producers sell homemade honey packaged in jars, although if you want to buy in large quantities you can arrange for it to be packaged in air tight metal drums, which are ideal for transporting back home.  Each producer will be happy to tell you all about the jar of honey you are buying from what it is made from to how the nectar was collected. The best seasons for buying Bulgarian honey are late spring and summer.