The oldest known written information on beekeepers keeping wild bees in hollow trees, the bees, honey and wax date back to the 13 th century. In the old times, people used honey and wax to pay their church taxes. In return of half of their honey and wax, tree beekeepers would be released from their obligations to the manor and would also receive a half of volok (around 26 acres) of land. Wax used to be one of the main exported goods. It was widely used for religious purposes in churches and monasteries as well as for making writing utensils and metalworking.
The Dzūkija National Park has 50 tree hollows remaining, out of which 16 were decreed objects of natural heritage. To preserve the traditions of this formerly popular craft for the future generations, a tree beekeeping exhibition and an educational path connecting 6 old and 11 new tree hollows were established near the Village of Musteika, which is renowned for its architecture and traditions.
Led by a beekeeper you can visit the local apiary, where you will witness beekeepers caring for the bees in hollow logs, handling honey and wax and making hollow log beehives and small bait hives called ‘vabikas’ to lure swarms. You can taste fresh honey, try your hand at crafting and get familiar with the old Village of Musteika and its surroundings.
The educational trail of 3.3 km in length will take 1.5 hours to complete and lies 5 km away from Musteika Village. Taking a walk along this pathway, you will see many pines with hollows that remind of one of the oldest crafts of this land and a mosaic of sandy dunes and small wetlands that are inherent to the region of Musteika Village. You will learn many interesting facts about the history of beekeeping and realize the hard work done by the local beekeepers. The ancient beekeeping exhibition available for visiting in the Village of Musteika also has a variety of ancient beehives. The forests around Musteika have many hollow pine trees that were used to keep bees in the past.