Up on the mountain ranges of Stogovo and Bistra, south-west Macedonia (Balkan Peninsula) near the cities of Debar and Kicevo there is a place called Ehloec.
In the past, (60-70 years ago) on those mountain ranges existed several villages with lot of families living there, working on land, keeping livestock, raising children’s, making trade, etc. After the Second World War, the communist regime has undermined the village work and favored the urbanization and industrialization of the country. People have moved to a larger cities where they have been offered to work in a large industrial companies. For a short period of time, in 50 years, the life which existed for centuries ended. The places on the mountain have been depopulated and with time no one left there. In some villages probably there are only 1 or 2 families that still living there and working on the land, others are completely depopulated.
In 1968 our old family house in the village of Ehloec have been burned down in a big fire that stroke the village. With the house everything was burned, the hope, the life, the future. For 40 years after that fire, nobody returned to the devastated place... Only the old grave in the village cemetery left where my husband’s grand-grandfather and his wife left... I remember the one time we have visited the place, standing there on a mound of earth, which 40 years ago was a big house, trying to picture myself the live was going on there - happy moments, sad moments, planning the future...
And now 40 years after it was us standing there faced with this past, thinking of future and deciding: Should we return to city, continue with our life and forget – like everybody did before, or do something to bring life back again.
Decision was obvious – on the old place where my family kept bees 70 years, on the exact place we “installed” 10 beehives. Happy buzz have changed the scenery and the place was live again. Whenever I was going there I didn’t go to an empty place but I was going to visit the bees, my only family there. With the bees I have discussed the future plans and they were “listening” to me, helping me to be persistent not to give up and continue. In the next few years we have rebuild the old house that have been burned down 40 years ago.
In 2015 we have decided to go beyond and try to do something more and different - believing in the certainty that there can be a better future for the honeybees. At this time, with Colony Collapse Disorder and a host of illnesses, mites and beetles undermining the bees' health and endangering their survival, we must start by asking the right questions. Instead of focusing on how much honey we can get from the bees we must ask what can be done to protect, strengthen and heal them… that’s how it all started.
Today we’re faced with a double crisis – environmental and economic, sustained economic growth and the imperative for environmental protection. The two are not only linked, but inseparable: the ‘environment’ is where we live, and ‘development’ is what we do to sustain our living. With our work we are creating a new possibilities on a forgotten land, once very wealthy, not just for us and our family but also for other young people which families once have lived there and worked on their land. We are making this land live again, because we believe that this is the only way to make sustainable economy and make sustainable living for us and the future generations.