Museum of Ancient Beekeeping

According to scientists, the oldest cult among people was worship of nature objects. Animals, plants, natural forces were thought to be higher powers than humanity. Lithuanians are the nation which professed paganism longer than any other European country. Thus it is not surprising that attention to some former sainted relicts is meaningful till nowadays. Bees and trees where they lived were thought to be saint in Lithuania. For closer acquainting with the bees and their life there is a Museum of Ancient Beekeeping in Aukštaitija National Park.

The museum was established in 1984 in Stripeikiai village located in the North East Lithuania. It is the only one of its type museum in Lithuania. Establisher of the museum, Bronius Kazlas, worked hard and patiently in order to create an exceptional exhibition best illustrating traditions, mythology and history of beekeeping in Lithuania.

The expositional part of the Museum of Ancient Beekeeping occupies 6 buildings and pretty large outside yard. Over 500 exhibits are located both inside and outside. As the museum is located on the shore of Tauragnas river, the park of sculptures perfectly fits into natural surroundings creating a real ancient beekeepers world.  By the way, some of these oak sculptures created by folklorist A. Patiejūnas, are real beehives where bee families live.

The exposition of the Museum of Ancient Beekeeping tells many historical and mythological facts about beekeeping. First of all, outside visitors are shown how beekeepers saved their bees from bears that breed and lived in forests largely in the past. Also ancient stump beehives used in 15-20th centuries and glass-sided beehives that enable visitors to watch the bees at work are here exposed. In addition, sculptures of Lithuanian pagan bee gods  Babilas and Austėja are here erected as symbols of beekeeping and spiritual protectors of the museum. Inside the buildings number of various tools of beekeepers, pictures, various beehives and other interesting things are exposed. Visitors also get acquainted with the sorts of plants that bees pick the nectar from. On the edge of the museum territory huge oak sculptures illustrating beekeepers myths of ancient Lithuanians, Indians, Injuns and Egyptians stand.

The honeybee is one of friendship symbols in Lithuania. Lithuanian synonym of the  word “friend” (draugas) is “bičiulis“ and it is derived from the word bee (bitė).  The Museum of Ancient Beekeeping even includes  exhibits that were presented to former Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus by Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko. That was three beehives and 3 bee families.

Visitors are welcome here every year from May to October. Local servant of the museum guides guests, tells and explains them many things in order to make their excursion very informative, interesting and memorable. Every year the 15th of August a nice fest is held there called “Medkopio šventė“ – the fest of honey and bread. It is an entertaining summer fest where people taste fresh honey, listen to local musicians playing and stories also myths told. Everyone came here can buy the bets honey, listen to advices of professional herbalists and enjoy many beekeepers activities.

The museum is open May to October, Tue-Sun, 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM.