March 25, 2023

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VIDEO, PHOTO: The last “bee hunter” – Mures News, Targu Mures News

Those who crossed the threshold of the “Anton Badea” Ethnographic Museum in Reghin on Sunday, September 25, had the unique opportunity to walk on the “Honey Road” with one of the most unique beekeepers in Romania, Mihai Grama, the last beekeeper in Romania who practice bee hunting. The event was part of the series of cultural events organized under the auspices of “Regina Culture Days” held between September 23-25, 2022.

“In the month of September, after September 14, the Day of the Cross, there is a popular custom called “Retezatul stupilor”, to which is also added “Bărcuitul stupilor”, a landmark in the beekeeping calendar, respectively the time when bee hunting was done. In order to deepen these things better, we invited a prominent beekeeper, Mihai Grama, with a vast activity and presentation in all kinds of reports, magazines and shows. He is perhaps the most appropriate person from whom to learn about primitive beekeeping. There are things that are less known by the general public, and I am convinced that it is good to know them even from an extremely knowledgeable person, as is the case of Mihai Grama”, stated Roxana Man, the manager of the “Anton Badea” Ethnographic Museum.

Day of the Cross and the healing honeycomb

The “Honey Road” had several bands represented by activities designed to present the stages of the beekeeping calendar: the presentation of the main activities carried out by the beekeeper to obtain honey, the viewing of documentary films with the presentation of bee hunting, practical demonstrations with honey harvesting (Retezatul stupilor) , the presentation of the ethnographic exhibition Archaic occupations – Beekeeping, creation workshop and stories – The industrious bee and last but not least the tasting of Mihai Grama brand honey assortments.

“I never get tired of this job and I hope I never do. From my grandfather from Valea Gurghiului in Orșova, named Dumitru Moldovan, I learned boating and bee hunting, a profession that is no longer practiced anywhere in Europe. I can honestly tell you that I am the only one who does this nowadays. It used to be a tradition that on September 14, the Day of the Cross, the honeycomb taken out of the hive was healing. It was for a cure, to an old man or a drunken woman, to whom this honeycomb was taken. Although people still had beehives near the house, the honeycomb in the forest was better, it was more healing than what the man had at home. It was a kind of sacrifice. As it was on Ignatius, a pig was sacrificed, or on Easter a lamb, exactly so was on the Day of the Cross, the sacrifice of a beehive found after boating. The goal was for everyone to take home a medicinal honeycomb from the forest clearing. Here at the museum, a film made in the 60s by Alexandru Sahia Studios was shown in which my grandfather appears, a film that presents, without sound, this custom of boating. I filled in the voice of the film, and I provided the necessary explanations about how the bee hunting went step by step”, stated Mihai Grama.

Honey, country brand

His pathos when it comes to bees and beekeeping is as obvious as it can be, the presence of Mihai Grama at the Regina museum only confirmed this. “I also worked outside the country and there I learned that the success of a business is not only to produce and sell wholesale abroad. This is not success, it is when you close the chain, from fork to fork, from producer to consumer on the shortest path. Rule number 1 is not to compromise on quality. In my frequent endeavors I kept saying that these products of mine, registered as a mountain product, must become a country brand. It’s only a matter of time because we can’t forever wholesale out the best of this country, berries out, mushrooms out, live animals out on all fours, roundwood out, basically everything out, and i keep wondering until we do this? I have been all over the country, the great satisfaction was when elderly people came to me and told me that they had not tasted honey like this for 50 years. Their faces actually light up when they are reunited with that taste known from childhood”, said Mihai Grama.

Mihai Grama did not come to the museum empty-handed, he came with a rich assortment of honey and bee products that could be tasted or even purchased by those present. “Here at the museum we presented about ten mountain beekeeping products. To give you an idea, my grandfather had all of this in a piece of honeycomb the size of my palm. You would bite into that honeycomb and find the taste of all the ten products that I exhibited here at the museum”, stressed Mihai Grama.


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