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Tuva: People of Action. Bee Keepers Alexander Vlasov and Dolaana Anchy.

Alexander Vlasov considers himself a hereditary beekeeper. Already his mother had several bee hives,

-  But my parents' bees somehow all died at the same time, and they did not repeat the attempt. Remembering this sad experience, I supplied myself with the necessary literature, but there are no bee pharmacies or stores in Tuva, so I had to go to Abakan, - he relates.

In 2010 he already had nine hives, and the family council decided to increase the numbers. This year, the family received government subsidy through the district Center, within the program "Lowering tension on the work market". They obtained a woodworking lathe for manufacturing the bee houses, several hives and equipment for taking care of the bees. Today, the family business is in the final stretch - there are 23 bee hives in many colors in the garden, a sturdy  barn has been built for the bees to spend the winter, and 15 hectares of  meliferous grasses have been sown in the field…The family has altogether  35 hectares of land where they are planning to sow "sweet" grasses.  They already have all the necessary farming technology.

-  We are planning the first harvest of honey for the end of  June.  The bees start the collecting of honey with the willow. It blooms first.  Then the dandelions bloom. After that, acacia. Here we call it "karagannik".  There are immense growths of karagannik around our village.  But the first harvest won't be large. I think that it won't be more than one 25-liter jug. When the field grasses begin to bloom, we will go to our land, so that the bees would not have to drag the honey too far, - the bee-keeper explained.

This is a milestone year for the family of Alexander Vlasov and Dolaana Anchy - they will start sales of their sweet product. In the preceding years, they had honey enough only for their own needs.

…the team of journalists caught up with Alexander and Dolaana at the usual control check-up of the hives as to the bee families' well-being. They were wearing their white canvas overalls with head masks, and from a distance they could have been mistaken for astronauts. Dolaana, as was obvious by her confident movements, was no neophyte to bee-keeping either. After a short period of instruction - walk slowly and don't wave your arms - the bravest (in slow movement) ran up to the buzzing bee houses.  We don't know if the velvety purring "Ya tuchka, tuchka tuchka" (bee-calming chant) of one of us helped, but we all got out of the buzzing cloud. Whole and unharmed . True, while Alexander was occupied in discussions and elucidations with us, one of the  queens took her swarm from the hive to a tree in the neighboring garden.

-  Now we really have to watch the hives night and day. Young bees are being born and fly out every 20-30 days. They live for 36 months.  The queens don't sleep either, several of them grow in each hive. They ripen, fly out, and take a proportion of the worker bees with them. The bees want to swarm away during the time of the main pollen harvest.

-  If you are planning to widen your bee farm, you  have to watch the swarms and take them to an empty hive. If not, then you have to simply remove the cell with the new queen, - says the bee-keeper with concern and takes us to the neighboring garden, where we photograph a newly- forming bee family. To have control over the "place where they stick"  of the new swarm, bee-keepers usually  smear ferments with the smell of a queen bee. Alexander has not done that yet, and  a new swarm stuck to the trunk of somebody else's tree. We went to meet a new adventure already without fear - the bees were occupied in their new house, and they were not interested in people.  True, we were attacked - by the mistress of the garden, because  we trampled her  newly planted potatoes.  Alexander shook the swarm off into a box with several frames. This box will serve as a temporary home for the bees, until the new hives are ready.

The family is planning to build a hot-house so that they could let the bees out earlier in the spring, and leave them out a little longer in the fall.

There are three growing sons in the family. Viktor is already 18. Younger Vadim has just turned one month. So far it is not known if they will take up their father's profession.  But one thing is clear - the parents are enthusiastic about bee-keeping, and are planning to widen their production.

Galina Murygina, journal "Tuvinskaya Pravda". Photo by Vladimir Savinykh, translated by Heda Jindrak
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