Omar Dolidze, 28, uses ropes to lift parts of a log-turned-hive to the top of a tree in Merisi, a gorge in Georgia's mountain region of Ajara.
Traditionally, Ajarian beekeepers make hives by hollowing out linden or spruce tree logs and then wedge them in place at the top of the trees -- the higher the better. Bees eventually swarm inside, spending the spring, summer, and some part of fall making honey. In the middle of the winter, normally mid-February or so, the honeycombs are collected, and hives are left in the tree, until the next winter.
The advantage of this traditional method, Dolidze explains, is that such inaccessibility of the hives makes it difficult to forge honey by artificially adding sugar to the honeycombs. The efforts are appreciated: Dolidze does not lack buyers, who come to his very village to buy honey for further reselling. Mountain Ajara honey is popular in Turkey, from where the resellers come to buy it at 20-25 lari ($12-$15) per kilo, almost double the price in Georgian markets.
"They come because they know it's a pure product," Dolidze says. "And abroad, such honey is a few times more expensive."
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