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These days, we keep bees, grow food, and otherwise film, write, and work in a mountain village in northeastern Bosnia. It’s a steep patch of funnel-shaped land we inherited from our father, along with an unruly orchard whose edges are furrowed by a creeping landslide. We are now a matriarchy; our mother is to our land what a queen bee is to a hive.




Larisa Jasarevic is an anthropologist.  Her current research project concerns the ways in which bees and beekeepers in Bosnia weather the changing climate. She is especially interested in the meaning of bees in the Bosnian Muslim culture as well as in deep, ecological insights of Islamic eschatology--the teachings about death and planetary doom. Her research findings are the subject of a book manuscript entitled Beekeeping in the End Times (IUP 2023) and of a documentary film by the same name (currently in post-production). Her previous book, entitled Health and Wealth in the Bosnian Market: Intimate Debt, described close intersections between bodily experience and post-war economy. Larisa taught at the University of Chicago. She is a 2022 Fellow with the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) and a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.
You can reach Larisa at jasarevic.g.larisa@gmail.com


   

Azra is an independent filmmaker. Since graduating  from the International School for Film and Television, San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, she has been working with the Freedom Front, a local activist group.  She has been researching and filming the struggles of regional workers and the social justice movements in the context of post-socialist economic and environmental disasters.Ever a nature lover, she is  also  a part-time beekeeper. Along with Larisa, she is co-directing and co-producing  the documentary Beekeeping in the End Times.You can reach Azra at azrajasarevic10@gmail.com


Zumra, an economist by training and a long-time writer, is now retired as a fulltime gardener. Since 2015, she has also been a bee-lover. The most practically-minded one in the family, she has the final word in the household and keeps our apiary’s records and our expense log. The business of our beekeeping to date, according to her count, is financially reckless.






Pepe is being a cat.



Postcards from Our Village & Apiary



March 29th dawned brilliant and unseasonally warm. We took a long walk through the fields and forests. Mom and Azra hunted the forest for bear’s garlic while I stalked the foraging bees. There was not much for the bees to find in bloom besides dead nettles, primroses, and wild violets. And this strange forest flower—can anyone name it? Raw and pink as flesh, the flowers emerge beneath the blanket of last year’s leaves, as if they were shrouds. Arching low above the ground, the florets are hiding, though not from the bees.


Sometime in late May, 2021.  A plunge:  deep within the parted petals is an offering. We name it pollen but who could tell what the treasure means to this bee.  

Our Apiary, spring 2020


The many honeybees that live on our hand occupy a mere eight hives. Our apiary is truly small but our greatest feat is that we’ve been managing to keep the bees alive and healthy over the years. We have harvested honey only three times, since 2015. Gorgeous, umber-colored linden, mixed in with black locust and blackberry blossoms, the honey is so fragrant that a whiff alone gives you a buzz. The jars warm up with golden hues as the honey crystalizes. All other years, we have fed honey and pollen (bought from a trusted source) back to the bees.



Without this emergency food aid (a snapshot of its production above), our bees would not have fared well through the dearths due to strange  weather. As the signs of global climate change become more immediately felt on the ground--even ground such as ours, far from industrial pollution and industrial agriculture, lovingly cultivated with bee-friendly flora and surrounded by forests and wilds--it is not clear how much longer we will be able to keep bees. In the meantime, with their perseverance, their beauty, their buzzing that sounds like invocation to Sufis and, anyhow, feels like a blessing, their swarming, nectar gathering, pollen foraging, pollinating and other acts of faith under inclement skies, the bees are keeping us going. 



We’ll also be glad to hear from you at:
beekeepingintheendtimes@gmail.com