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"Each bee carries the mechanism of the universe: each summarizes the secret of the world."
- Michel Onfray
Honey is a very ancient product, its production is linked to the life cycle of a particular species of insects: bees. The particularity of the bees is not only due to the productivity that distinguishes them, but also to their strong link with another species: the human one. In the course of history a concept has manifested itself several times: the fate of man and bees would be strongly interconnected.
An ancient testimony of the synergy between man and bees dates back to the Neolithic period and we know about it thanks to a cave painting, depicting bees in flight and a man intent on collecting honey. The first to practice beekeeping, however, were the Egyptians: they understood the importance of providing bees with a suitable habitat for the construction of the hive.
Throughout history, man understood the richness of the product called "honey" and he therefore began to use it for its nutritional and healing properties, but not only!
Honey was attributed additional roles: the Celtic population used it, for example, for burial rites; for the Etruscans it had the value of a votive offer. Other populations, such as the Indian one, attributed to honey an aphrodisiac power, inserting it among the ingredients of love filters. Its religious value is also known, it was in fact used in religious rites, and it is mentioned in the Qu'ran, where it is recognized as a symbol for material and spiritual rebirth.
Honey production spread rapidly and remained unchanged throughout the Middle Ages, until honey was replaced by the arrival of sugar, which was much cheaper. However, the value of honey today is not in crisis: beekeeping has witnessed new progress between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, thanks to the development and implementation of new techniques.
In Oltrepò Pavese honey production plays an important role. In the small village of Zavattarello, the tradition of honey production has been handed down from the 19th century by Count Luigi Dal Verme to the present day, leading the municipality to excel in its production, giving it the definition of "land of honey and bees". Also in the whole surrounding area, honey is considered a main product and a series of associations were born for its enhancement. In 2015 the Apiculturists Oltrepò Montano association was born. The attribution of the protected designation of origin for Zavattarello honey was also proposed and discussed. In order to increase product quality and production efficiency, beekeepers know that one of the aims should be the creation of a network between them. Its production also takes place in the areas of Casteggio (where its quality is given by the fact it's biological), Montecalvo Versiggia, Robecco Pavese and Broni. In these farms it is possible to buy it in all its variations and, in some, there are also other honey-based products, such as candies, which exploit its beneficial properties.
There are several honey producers and retailers in Oltrepò who offer a unique and traditional product, discover them with oltrepoAdvisor!