Georgia is located at the eastern end of the Black Sea on the southern flanks of the main crest of the Greater Caucasus mountains. Seventy-five percent of the country is mountainous. Forty percent of Georgia is forested. The forests are known for their biodiversity, which include more than 13,000 species of flora, out of which 380 are endemic to the region. Georgia includes a wide range of agro ecological zones ranging from semi-desert to sub-tropical and alpine. There are 14 Strict Nature Reserves, 8 National Parks, 12 Managed Nature Reserves, 40 Natural Monuments and 2 Protected Landscapes. Georgia covers 69, 700 square kilometers of land, making it a small country in terms of land area. Around 43 % of the land is used in agriculture.
Georgia is divided into eleven regions. It is located in the extreme northern part of subtropical climate zone, therefore almost every type of subtropical climate zone is found in Georgia - humid subtropical, moderately humid, moderately dry and dry-continental. Altitudes range by regions and go from zero to 5201 meters.
These are ideal conditions for the production of honey: Acacia, Blossom, Linden, Chestnut, Alpine and wild honey ‘Jara’. Beekeeping in Georgia has a long history.
There are 14 000 beekeepers, up to 240,000 bee colonies and 2,500 tons of honey produced here annually.
Racha Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti
The Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia is a coastal region located in the northwest corner of Georgia. Abkhazia is a very mountainous. 75% of the area is covered by mountains and foothills with 195 km coastline. Here the climate is warm, humid and subtropical, average annual temperature is +15 degrees Celsius. In this land the sun shines more than 220 days a year. At 4046 meters, Dombai is the region’s highest mountain range and marks the beginning of Caucasus. The nature of Abkhazia is characterized by forest resources and vegetation, with more than 133 plants endemic to Abkhazia. The region is home to 2000 species of flora, of which more than 250 are medicinal. Forest cover is 52%. Honey is obtained from native species such as: Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus; Ground-ivy Glechoma hederacea; Honey Clover Melilotus albus; Creeping Savory Satureja laxiflora; Weaver’s Broom Spartium junceum; Devil’s-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis; White Clover Trifolium repens.
The Autonomous Republic of Ajara is another coastal region located in the southwest of Georgia. This picturesque region is known for its beauty with subtropical landscapes, 121 km coastline, forested green hills and mountains. The region has a great variety of ecosystems: the lowlands of Ajara are full of citrus Citrus reticulata plantations and tea is grown. A bit higher the mountains forests contains Chestnut Castanea sativa; Linden Tilia begoniifoli; four types of Rhododendron Rhododendron ponticum; Spurge Laurel Daphne mezereum; Ground-ivy Glechoma hederacea; Guelder Rose Viburnum opulus; Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus and other trees. The alpine zone includes untouched hectares of alpine wildflowers such as: Salt Cedar Tamarix ramosissima; Largest Masterwort Astrantia maxima; Welted Thistle Carduus acanthoides; Hyssop Hyssopus angustifolius; Creeping Savory Satureja laxiflora. The region is famous for its chestnut honey which has a special bittersweet taste. In Ajara, there are two national parks and two protected areas which cover more than 20 % of the region. Annually, the sun shines for an average of 192 days a year and rainfall is 1466 mm.
Guria is situated to the north of Ajara in the western part of Georgia on the Black Sea coast. Guria’s diverse nature and climate, which includes subtropical landscapes, coastline, lowlands, wetlands, and the high mountains of Lesser Caucasus, make the region unique. Citrus plantations, fruit gardens, tea and nuts, grapes and maize are the main crops. Wooded lowlands are covered with Chestnut Castanea sativa; False Acacia Robinia pseudoacacia; Spurge Laurel Daphne mezereum; European Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus; Guelder Rose Viburnum opulus; Solidago or Goldenrod Solidago virgaurea and Field Clover Trifolium Campestre; Largest Masterwort Astrantia maxima; Ground-ivy Glechoma hederacea; Devil’s-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis are widely spread. There are several mountainous resorts in the region, such as Gomi and Bakhmaro resorts, which are covered with alpine wildflowers and create the ideal conditions for the transhumance of bees. Guria’s humid subtropical climate merged with mountain and sea air, creates the medicinal properties of the resorts.
The region of Imereti is situated along the middle and upper end of the Rioni river and is one of the largest beekeeping zones. Imereti is divided into Zemo (upper) and Kvemo (lower) Imereti. It borders the Likhi Mountain Range to the east, the Tskhenistskali River to the west, the Caucasus Mountains to the north and the Meskheti Mountains to the south. The lowlands of Imereti are mostly covered with Colchis low brush, forests, oaks, groves, and meadows. The mountainous parts of Imereti are mainly Colchis deciduous forests. The altitude ranges from 150 to 3000 meters here. Imereti is known for its various honey flowers, such as Chestnut Castanea sativa; False Acacia Robinia pseudoacacia; Goldenrod Solidago virgaurea; Snakeroot Polygala caucasica. The Borjomi-Khragauli national park forms one-tenth of the country’s territory. The park is rich with: Black Poplar Populus nigra; Honey Clover Melilotus albus; White Nettle Lamium tomentosum; Wild Grape Vitis sylvestris.
Kakheti is one of the most beautiful and diverse parts of Georgia and is situated in the extreme east of Georgia. Its stunning landscapes include the snow-covered mountains of the North Caucasus Mountain range, with peaks reaching up to 4500 meters standing side by side with fertile lowland – valleys and fields. To the North one of the rightly famous roads of the world winds precipitously up the range to the ecological jewel which is Tusheti, buried within the mountains. Further east there are even the semi-desert areas of Dedoplistskaro and the Sagarejo Districts. Kakheti is rich with honey plants such as: Musk Thistle Carduus nutans; Ground-ivy Glechoma hederacea; Alfalfa Medicago caucasica; Honey Clover Melilotus albus; Woodland Sage Salvia nemorosa; Weaver’s Broom Spartium junceum. The climate in the Alazani Valley is characterized by moderately humid subtropical features. Average winter temperature is around 0+1 C; in summer the temperature reaches up to +23-25. Annual precipitation ranges from 600 to 1000 mm in the valley. Kakheti is rich in parks and protected areas, with Vashlovani, Lagodekhi, Babaneuri, Batsara and the Tusheti National Parks, Kurugi and Ilto reserves. The Tusheti protected landscapes giving great diversity of flora such as: Lime Tree Tilia begonifolia; Jerusalem Thorn Paliurus Spina-Christi; Sainfoin Onobrychis biebersteinii; Field Clover Trifolium Campestre.
Kvemo Kartli is situated in the southeastern part of Georgia. The landscape of Lower Kartli consists largely of steppes and forested steppes. The lowlands in the region are characteristic of semi-deserts. The Algeti National Park in the Trialeti region is especially interesting, offering a large diversity of flora. It is often referred to as a Floral Junction, since it supports such a wide array of flora, including plants native to Colchis, Persia, Iberia, Iran, the Middle East, and the Caucasus area including: Field Maple Acer campestre; False Acacia Robinia pseudoacacia; Seaberry Hippophae rhamnoides; Black Poplar Populus nigra; Wild Grape Vitis sylvestris. More than 300 days are sunny here. The average air temperature is 12 Celsius, with 400-600 mm of precipitation annually. Kvemo Kartli’s ecosystem is rich with the Trialeti national park, the Gardabani nature reserve and Tbilisi National Park which offer a variety of ecosystems which feature species such as: Scalloped Spirea Spiraea crenata; Honey Clover Melilotus albus; Cornelian Cherry Cornus mas; Alfalfa Medicago caucasica; Hyssop Hyssopus angustifolius; Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria.
Mtskheta-Mtianeti is one of the most picturesque and diverse lands located in eastern Georgia. It is home to 3500 and 5000-meter-high snowy peaks of the Greater Caucasus and mountain passes, beautiful gorges, secluded lakes, and alpine valleys. The Caucasus Mountains in Khevi and Khevsureti are particularly scenic. The steep slopes descending into the Aragvi valley are examples of some of the most beautiful views encountered anywhere in the world. The region’s ecosystem is enriched by the Tbilisi and Kazbegi national parks, the Gudauri recreational territory which is a popular area for transhumance among beekeepers, because of warm spring climate and abundance of early flowering varieties. This natural diversity offers a wide variety of honey plants such as: Largest Masterwort Astrantia maxima; Plumeless Thistles Carduus acanthocephalus; Cornelian Cherry Cornus mas; Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria; Yellow Alfalfa Medicago falcata; Creeping Savory Satureja laxiflora; Wild Mustard Sinapis arvensis; Spirea Spiraea hypericifolia. The climate of the region is moderately humid with an average 11 Celsius. The most widespread honey plants are: Lime Tree Tilia begoniifolia; Jerusalem Thorn Paliurus Spina-Christi; Sainfoin Onobrychis biebersteinii; Field Clover Trifolium Campestre.
Racha-Lechkhumi - Kvemo Svaneti is a region in northwest Georgia. 46% of the region is comprised of a national park. The regional flora is rich with Chestnut Castanea sativa; Lime Tree Tilia begonifolia; Caucasian Comfrey Symphytum caucasicum; Dogwood Swida koenigii; Cornelian Cherry Cornus mas; Ground-ivy Glechoma hederacea; Pea Lathyrus sativus; Creeping Savory Satureja laxiflora. The altitude ranges from 400 to the highest peak (Lahili) 4008 meters here. The alpine zone is rich with Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus; Spurge Laurel Daphne mezereum; European Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus. The climate ranges from humid subtropical to moderate with an average humidity level of 85-90% annually. The region is one of the sunniest in Georgia, as its 267 annual days of sunshine creates the proper conditions for the bees to gather nectar. This region produces one of the most exceptional honey types in Georgia: chestnut, linden and alpine honey.
Samegrelo is located among the ravines created by Rioni, Enguri and Tskhenistskali rivers. Svaneti is landlocked by the Greater Caucasus mountains. Its north end in the Svaneti region reaches 5201 meters. This western region is kept warm and humid by the Black Sea. From south to north, the climate changes from subtropical to a moderate climate. Samegrelo region is known for the Kolkheti National Park and its lowlands full of Solidago or Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) which flowers in autumn, and Amorpha (Amorpha fruticosa). The region also has two national parks in Samegrelo and Svaneti with rich ecosystems such as: Largest Masterwort Astrantia maxima; Wild Mustard Sinapis arvensis; White Clover Trifolium repens; Gooseberry Grossularia reclinata; Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus. Svaneti is characterized by alpine wildflowers: Field Clover Trifolium Campestre; European Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus; Spurge Laurel Daphne mezereum. Annual humidity ranges from 900 – 1400 mm annually. Thanks to these climate conditions, bees are active 255 days of the year.
Samtskhe-Javakheti is located in the southern part of Georgia. Its volcanic mountains, open plains, freshwater lakes, ravines, canyons, and fast-moving rivers, as well as archeological, religious and cultural sites, are impressive. The region is fully alpine. The altitude ranges from 1000 to 3305 meters. In its valleys average yearly humidity is 500-800 mm. The sun shines more than 170 days of the year here. Samtskhe-Javakheti is famous for its alpine honey from the variety and abundance of alpine flowers growing there, such as Wild Thyme Thymus caucasicus; Sainfoin Onobrychis biebersteinii; Thistles Cirsium aggregatum. Rowan Sorbus boissieri. Main nutrients of honey here are full of alpine wildflowers with high content of glucose therefore it is easily crystallized. The region is rich in nature reserves, such as Ktsia-Tabatskuri, Tetrobi, and Nedzvi. Both, the Javakheti and Borjomi national parks help to create a rich ecosystem in the region, which contains: Musk Thistle Carduus nutans; Cornelian Cherry Cornus mas; Hyssop Hyssopus angustifolius; Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria; Creeping Savory Satureja laxiflora; White Mustard Sinapis alba; Scalloped Spirea Spiraea crenata; European Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus. Caucasian Alfalfa Medicago caucasica; Yellow Alfalfa Medicago falcata; Woodland Sage Salvia nemorosa; Wild Mustard Sinapis arvensis.
Shida Kartli is a region in eastern Georgia. It is located in the central part of the lowlands between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus mountains. The region is formed by extensive plain and mountain edges. The altitude ranges from 470 to 3877 meters. The region’s ecosystem is enriched by the Liakhvi and Trialeti national parks, and includes flora, such as: Largest Masterwort Astrantia maxima; Welted Thistle Carduus acanthoides; Moldavian Dragonhead Dracocephalum moldavica; Gooseberry Grossularia reclinata; Yellow Alfalfa Medicago falcata; Creeping Savory Satureja laxiflora; White Mustard Sinapis alba; Armenian Plum Armeniaca vulgaris. Shida Kartli has a variable climate; in some parts moderate humid and in some dry subtropical. Average annual temperature is 9-11 Celsius and average annual precipitation is 824 mm. The honey flowers widely found here are Salt Cedar Tamarix ramosissima; White Willow Salix pentandroides; Jerusalem Thorn Paliurus Spina-Christi; Georgian Barberry Berberis Iberica. In its valleys the sun shines 213 days. Low humidity and flora favor excellent quality of pollen production.
Archaeological evidence dates honey to 7000 years ago, exceeding honey remnants found in Tutankhamen’s tomb dated at approximately 3500 years ago. Xenophon writing in the fourth century BC tells of the defeat of the Greeks invading the Black Seas coast using poisoned honey.
Well-known German cartographer and cosmographer, Sebastian Münster, in his work Cosmographia, which is regarded as the first German description in the world, published in 1628, illustrates a honey making and trading in Georgia.
Italian missionary, Arcangelo Lamberti, who was living in Georgia in 1630-1649, in his writings describes Georgian honey as the best.
The healing qualities of Georgian honey are mentioned in texts dating back to the thirteenth century AD.
From the ancient times, bees were perceived as divine creatures and taking care of them was an honor in Georgia. Locals dedicated many poems and songs to Georgian bees.