Ciao bella! Our latest unveiled interview takes us far from home, where we caught up with Giorgia Mocilnik a beekeeper who has kept bees in Australia and now Italy! From greatest fears, experiences across the globe and ways to inspire change to help save the bees, we got the goods on this global beekeeper!
How long have you been a beekeeper? What inspired you to start beekeeping?
I have been beekeeping since 2015, even if I still define myself as an assistant beekeeper rather than a proper beekeeper. I started in Australia and then continued in Italy.
What was your greatest fear about starting to keep bees or the biggest barrier to entry?
My greatest fear was a common and natural one – being stung by these little insects.
We absolutely love your beautiful photos of the bees. What inspired you to start taking photos of these little buzzing creatures?
I’m an artist with the intention of becoming a proper beekeeper in the future. I can’t stop taking photos or drawing ideas anytime I feel the necessity to. However, when you are beekeeping you become part of a magical and challenging world, in a unique atmosphere and strength, which is hard to capture, if not with your camera…or just with your mind.
How has working closely with bees changed your perception of nature or the world around us?
My attitude toward being a good observer, attentive and curious about noises and smells, and trying to discover new tastes, led me to start beekeeping in the first place. So I reckon my perception of nature has just developed even more than before.
What’s your favorite thing about being a beekeeper?
Observing bees live their routine, taking care and working with them. They are very small but strong, hard-working creatures that convey a lot of energy and, every time I inspect them, I forget about the outside problems.
Tell us about your most memorable experience with your bees in your first year.
There are two memorable experiences I want to underline. In Australia, I had the opportunity to go beyond my beekeeping duties and collaborate with an art project involving the Apis mellifera and my colleague Honey Fingers. The bees, indeed, showed us how incredible and adaptable they are by building their honeycomb on bread. I will never forget the first time we checked the first piece of bread: what we felt was a mix of excitement and concern at the same time, seeing that every single sculpture had become a beautiful combination between bread and honey…it was extraordinary! I will also never forget all the swarms I caught with Pianobee in Italy! Indoor, outdoors…everywhere! And most important of all, he let me use and inspect his hives from the beginning. It made me acquire more self-confidence in a short time. I am very grateful to both of them, they taught me a lot.
What is the most difficult thing about being a beekeeper?
Seeing bees suffer and not being able to do anything more than what you have already done to help them. A very good beekeeper is always updated, keeps evolving, transforms his methods and is flexible to adapt the techniques to every situation, but sometimes there are very many factors he has to consider: the different tempers of the bees, the seasons that are never the same anymore, the new sicknesses and parasites, neighbor beekeepers with different ways to treat the bees and so on.
What are you favorite bee products and why?
Honeeeeeey! I love to taste local honey when I visit new places and find different homemade products, for example, lip balm.
Do you use any bee products for health purposes? If so, which ones, why and how?
Propolis spray for my throat: I must have it when I am sick.
For those out there who fear the bees what words of advice do you have to clear up this misconception?
Firstly, everybody should be interested in beekeeping, because most of our human life depends on bees. Secondly, I recommend finding a beekeeper close to your area, to approach the bees’ world for a few hours. Bees are, most of the time, very gentle and calm, and not interested in humans as other kinds of insects can be. Once you see how they live and work, I doubt you won’t love them!
Do you feel that people in your country are fairly conscious of the bees and their importance? We have many wonderful and passionate bee advocates but a large portion of the population is still unaware of all that the bees do for the earth. How is this looked at in your area or country? Do you find that there is a great need to cultivate awareness of the hard work of our buzzing friends?
Unfortunately not enough. And, of course, there is the need to cultivate awareness of the hard work of our buzzing friends not just in Italy, but also in every country. There are many ways to do so: one-way could be introducing this sweet world [beekeeping] to the kids since they are young. Moreover, art is a great medium/ way to inform people and get them interested. Honey Fingers and I created Bread + Honey with this aim as well: underline the magical and powerful bee’s world and turn the fear for this insect into fascination.
How does your community view beekeepers? What do your friends think when you tell them that you’re a beekeeper?
The number of beekeepers is increasing almost everywhere: their importance comes from the fact that they not only produce honey, but they also take care of the bees, who are increasingly affected by diseases and environmental problems… and at the same time the number of these tiny pollinators are greatly decreasing. People have shown interest in my choice and are curious to know why I got into beekeeping. When you are passionate about something, you try to share your knowledge with others and you easily get them involved in your world: I love doing that, even more so because it is for a good cause!
What are some recognized uses for bee products that you feel are unique to you or your country?
The local honey can help you to diminish your allergies in the spring season because the sweet gold has been made by bees eating nectar from all flowers of your area: including the flowers that make you react!
What would you tell people to inspire them to act? What changes can we make in our lives to help the bees?
Bees live in an organized society (super-organism) where everyone has their own function and perform certain tasks in order to make the community productive. This shows how everything starts from the single and expands to the collective. Every single bee is essential for the group, and they all help each other. We can learn a lot from this, as It is really important not to give up and to do the best you can – based on your capabilities- for yourself, the bees and the next generations, even if your friends or neighbors may not do the same. Let’s start to build our little vegetable garden, let’s only buy local food, let’s avoid harmful insecticides and call a beekeeper instead of the exterminator when a swarm of bees decides to build their hive in our wall. Let’s learn from more organized and environmentally friendly countries…and let’s paint our cities with green and colorful perfume! We can really make a change and resolve problems, it’s easier than we thought.
Giorgia Mocilnik has a sweet Instagram and website, which displays all the incredible projects she is a part of. Make sure you check them out!