Terre del Conero





In this section you will find many interesting facts and insights about our area, its food and traditions. You will also come across many tips about healthy eating, and there are some simple recipes that you can use to enjoy our products.

Honey

The rural civilization of the Marche placed great value on honey: together with concentrated ‘sapa’ it was the most widely used sweetener, even after the extraction of sugar from beetroot had greatly reduced the cost of sugar. The honey remained a good to be purchased, so it was very rare in the pantry of the peasant, where the focus was almost always on self-production and self-consumption, limiting disposable income for groceries. However, for centuries, beekeeping has remained a rudimentary process, resistant to any improvement or technological development, to the point that some scholars consider the collection of honey of the past to be an untamed practice, not covered by farming regulation. The law, however, protected the bees and the fruit of their labour, as highlighted, for example, in the Statutes of Sirolo (in chapter 44 , "Of the punishment of those who cut fruit trees and ruin the channels and cupilli of another's possession").

Only during the eighteenth century, which was characterized by a strong impetus towards technical and scientific improvement in every field, including agronomy, were there attempts to modernize the honey industry. In 1775 a booklet was published in Osimo by Giovanni Salvini called, Istruzione al suo fattore di campagna (‘Education for your country farmer’), which also devotes a few pages to bee breeding. In 1808 ‘Il Dottore della Villa’ was printed in Jesi, by Angelantonio Rastelli. Rastelli. He wanted to improve and provide a significant boost to  beekeeping by encouraging farmers to construct their hives in the best way, favouring the garden and sheltering it from the north wind, because in the garden "the bees will find plenty of food, flowers and nectar from thyme and sage, lavender , rosemary , lilies, violets , roses , poppies , etc. . as the beans from peas, clover , Saracen wheat, and various trees that make the flower on the spring".  The author then explains the ways that the honey could be removed, using the proper precautions ("with a towel around his neck, a mask made of crime sieve in the face, a pair of gloves for your hands to protect yourself from bee stings", this operation should be carried out in May, then in August, and October), and he also lists the qualities that can be drawn from honey.

The expectation of good honey production was obviously widespread: in the almanac ‘A little bit of old, a little of new’, printed in Ancona in 1821, the title is followed by a 'Speech for the new year 1822’, where it was stated that "the year will be fertile and abundant in all goods [ ...] . There will be plenty of Sheep and Honey. All the Year will be healthy and calm. Only the Fruits of the Gardens will perish". After this prediction of an abundance of honey in that year, in the following pages we can find a traditional proverb with its explanation: " If it rains in August / honey rains , ‘mosto’ rains: rain in August is a consolation for the fields [...] . It also increases the harvest of honey, because it covers the fields of autumn with flowers, from which the bees can extract nectar. And here, I take the opportunity to strongly recommend to our farmers to extend the cultivation of these useful insects, which costs so little and requires little effort, and makes so sweet and attractive profit."

In 1871, in Camerino a booklet by Vincenzo Fusconi was printed, entitled ‘The new culture of bees’, with a subtitle - Letters of a Marche man and a Lombard man: the Marche beekeeper recounts his experiences to the master of the north, illustrating the installation of new beekeeping technologies and highlighting the backwardness and negative prejudices about this practice in his land.

Thirteen years later, the response regarding the state of agriculture in the Marche prepared by the ‘Jacini Agrarian Investigation Commission’ would be depressing, with a few exceptions mentioned: "Beekeeping is carried out by a limited number of farmers and few use a rational system.' The compilers limited their praise to the initiative of the Marquis of Sant' Elpidio Bartolucci who, following a rational system, "brought his beekeeping, according to our colleague from Fermo, to the level of a real industry", and that of «Comizio agrario di Osimo, followed by the others in the province of Ancona, that instituted an experimental apiary."

In order to update a still precarious situation, in 1904 in Ancona an important manual was printed by Giuseppe Montagano. The ‘Manual of beekeeping: 1. Course of theoretical and practical lessons of beekeeping to be used by the bee farmer, rural schools and anyone who wants to initiate this ingenious industry. This manual marked another significant step forward in the evolution of bee keeping.

Traditionally, the use of honey was used only to spread on bread or for carnival cakes, especially ‘castagnole’ and ‘cicerchiata’. In 1927, Cesare Tirabasso in his ‘Guide to cooking: 507 recipes from the Marche region and from the nation’, proposes a "honey sweet", a cream with eggs that was storable "in a jar to be eaten when needed."



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Terre del Conero Agricoltori per Natura, soc. coop. agr. Via Peschiera 30, 60020 Sirolo (AN) P.IVA 02474980428
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development