The small town of Camlihemsin sits in the mountainous province of Rize, in northeastern Turkey, some 10 miles inland from the Black Sea.

Built along the banks of the Flirtina River, which runs through one of the province's steep-sided valleys, the town is a ley point of access to the surrounding Kackar mountains.

It is also home to a community of Hemshin people, an ethnic minority originating from Armenia who sustain a distinctive tradition : black hive beekeeping.

Since their arrival in Rize hundreds of years ago, the hemshin people have settled in various places throughout the province - near the town of Camlihemsin and in smaller villages further up the mountain.

Many residents choose to relocate in accordance with the temperature. During the cooler months, they live in villages that range in elevation from about 300 feet to 1,600 feet, and in the heat of the summer they move to hoimes on hoher plateaus, at around 6,500 feet.

Towering over the man-made settlements are the trees of the fabled Honey Forest, or Bal Ormani, which covers the slopes of the surrounding valleys. Nestled among the chestnuts, lindens and acacias that grow there are the prized hornbeam trees, which have been used for generations to keep bees.

High above the forest floor, out of the reach of any sweet-toothed bears, the hornbeams are host to the black hives, or karakovan, that are famed among beekeepers the world over, Made of sections of hollowed-out logs, the black hives are placed on small platforms that have been secured to the trunk and limbs of the tree.

Unlike the hives used in modern migratory beekeeping,  these hives will remain all year long. They will be cleaned at the  beginning of summer, and the honey produced by the Caucasian honey bees - Apis mellifera caucasia - will be collected toward the end of the season.

Traditionally, these hives were managed by the men of the community, with each man responsible for around five hives. But that custom is evolving.  Hemshin women are now being taught age-old beekeeping practices,  in the hopes that they will play a crucial role  in preserving the  traditions of their people.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on Turkey and Traditions, continue. The World Students Society thanks author Daniel Milroy Maher.


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