When most peoplehear the word ‘beekeeper’, they see an astronaut-like figure in a white beekeeping suit armed with a bee smoker. Well, at least a man with a large helmet on his head, because your head is worth protecting. However, when you meet the beekeeping brothers Ignas and Vilius, every bit of previously-held knowledge about bees and beekeeping somehow disappears. And if, at the beginning, you still hope for some sort of protective wear or are absolutely convinced that you’ll stay at least 100 m clear of the hives and not a step closer, half an hour later, you won’t even notice how your previous convictions are nothing but gone. How could they even stay intact, seeing the brothers with nothing but t-shirts on, pressing their beloved bees to their cheeks and petting them lovingly. That’s just how these beekeeping brothers are: as with bees, so with people – sincere, straightforward and without any unnecessary armour. After all, it’s for good reason that our forefathers believed that only a good and kind person could become a beekeeper. Today, the brothers enjoy running a large and modern bee farm and selling Brolių Medus products around the entire world. However, in the beginning, things were a little different — just a few hand-made hives, lots of enthusiasm, love and belief in their work. So, let’s start at the beginning.
From an old hive to modern-day beekeeping
When it all started, nobody, not even the twins themselves, could have imagined that it would all develop into their life’s aim and passion. Before they even came of age, the brothers brought an old hive back from their grandparents’ homestead and caught their first swarm. Even back then, there was no shortage of courage: the boys nimbly took a bee cocoon down from a tree and moved the worker bees into their hive. That is how it all began. Love at first sight, one might say, a love that grew greater with every hive. From frame to hive, the brothers made everything themselves. Further evidence of their skilled hands stands on their bee farm — a sculpture of Bubilas, the god of bees and honey, that they carved themselves.
Apart from being dexterous, beekeepers must be creative as they take their bee farming to the next level. Their beekeeping progressed from hobby to craft to life passion, and the brothers never stopped, neither upon encountering their first obstacles, nor in generating ideas for new Brolių Medus products. And even though there are no bounds to perfection, the brothers’ farm already boasts the latest equipment. After all, when you truly love something, there’s nothing you won’t give. Perhaps that love, sincere belief and interest in what they were doing contributed to the brothers’ enterprise earning the reputation of a modern bee farm that produces honey recognised with the National Quality label. One thing is for sure: the journey from hive to bee farm, while not easy, was incredibly interesting and full of challenges. The 150 hives that now dot their farm simply confirm that all of their efforts have produced a serious return. Most importantly, the beekeeping brothers can do what they love most.
Now with over a decade of beekeeping experience under their belts, the brothers say that they not only love their bees, they also have a great respect for them and their work. As people, we have a lot to learn from them: they work to the death, i.e., until the very end of their lives. The fruits of such labour should be properly appreciated. This is why producing the highest quality honey requires quality storage and packaging: from original labels to hexagonal jars that mimic the shape of a honeycomb cell. Everything is carefully considered. You can tell that lots of thought goes into making their products unique. First, with their far from corporate approach to bees and their products. After all, the honey produced by happy bees gives off joy and happy vibrations. And this only contributes to the beneficial effects offered by honey and bee products.
Bees and beekeepers: one happy family
When the brothers lovingly and respectfully talk to their bees, at first it surprises you and then it completely wins you over. In their hands, the bees look like sweet little balls of fluff that rise and land with the wind. At the brothers’ bee farm, many have shed their fear of bees, made friends with them and even learned something about themselves. And the secret here is very simple. Bees are very much like people. They live in families (or colonies), take care of each other, have their separate responsibilities and different characters. The entire colony takes after its queen. So the secret to peaceful and loving bees is carefully selected, high-quality, calm and kind queens, who carry their serenity around the hive and pass it on to their offspring. Just don’t be fooled: even the calmest of bees will use its weapon if it feels danger, so you have to approach them with a certain attitude. The bee farm is best approached with a clean conscience and a clear head. Bees, like all other animals, are sensitive to our vibrations, so they will respond how you call.
In order to ensure a quality brood, beekeepers breed and select queen bees themselves and also acquire them from other European bee farms. To the uninitiated, bees look like simple creatures, but they can actually be very different. These differences determine their behaviour, the amounts of honey, pollen and other bee products they produce, resistance to disease and parasites, swarming proclivity and other traits that beekeepers are interested in. So, a good queen bee is half the job of establishing a new colony. The young bee farmers (even though you could never call them that based on their experience) help others establish their cosy bee colonies by selling their own selected and fertilised queen bees.
Good to share
If anyone is used to imagining a wise beekeeper with a grey old beard — you’ll be disappointed. These beekeeping brothers disprove many myths about bee farming and eagerly share the knowledge they have accumulated. For them, this is a unique mission of sorts — bringing others closer to nature and dispelling the stigmas and unfounded fears associated with bees. And young people are often more willing to speak to other young people. This is why the brothers teach the secrets of beekeeping to all who are willing to listen — from kindergartners to senior citizens. Their educational activities, during which participants get to make their own beeswax candle or toy, are gaining popularity and interest. Little ones carefully roll their candles and listen about the life of bees. Who knows, when they grow up, perhaps they too will begin to learn this age-old craft with their first hive.
Never short of ideas, the beekeeper brothers first share their latest inventions with their family, friends and neighbours, measuring ten times before cutting the eleventh – handing it over for customers to judge. This was how the honey treats – honey with freeze-dried fruits and berries – came about. Beloved and praised by customers, this product even works well for those who aren’t great fans of honey – the addition of fruit and berries results in a sweet, aromatic cream with a lovely colour. It is especially beloved by children, while parents can rest at ease because their offspring are consuming less sugar and fewer sweets. Similarly, wax candles came to see the light of day: first, bringing joy to close ones, and now, bringing warmth and cosiness to many Lithuanian homes. The brothers have even found a clever way to make wax Christmas tree decorations, which they have decorated their trees with for many a year. They say the smell is incredible. There are also rumours that we will soon see the brothers’ first natural beauty product, tested for several months by representatives of the fairer sex. The brothers aren’t in a rush to reveal any of the other inventions circulating in their minds and hearts. One thing is for sure, they will not stop creating and sharing. As they say themselves, beekeeping is a craft about the family and for the family, which makes them and their customers – one large family too. And we all want what’s best for our families – only the highest quality honey, healthy desserts, a cosy environment, pleasant conversation and the feeling that you are wanted and needed.
If you ever drop by a local fair and see a couple of warmth-exuding faces that are (according to most) too young to be beekeepers – then you’re probably looking at the bee brothers. If your kids come home from kindergarten or school with tales of interesting lessons about bees – they probably met the bee brothers. If you ever read an article about a love for bees — it may have been written by our beekeepers. And if not, then whenever you need a little warmth and are going in the direction of Kupiškis – drop by the Brolių Medus bee farm. Not just for the delicious honey, but for the family feeling that comes over you, even on just a very brief visit. Brolių Medus is much more than just honey. It’s a message about family warmth and communication, taking care of each other, respect for bees and honey, love for Lithuania and human beings.