By Wendy Williams

THE word Colmenar literally means ‘beehive’ so it is hardly surprising that the small mountain village has a long bee-keeping tradition.

In fact, the village is so connected to bees that it now has its own honey museum.

An interesting exhibit it has a dual purpose of explaining the importance of beekeeping as well as attempting to revive the tradition that dates back to the origins of the town in the 18th century.

“Families have passed on the knowledge from generation to generation, explains director Fernando de Miguel Rey.

“And while there is more modern technology today, the process is basically the same and you can still get stung.”

Rey first arrived from the north of Spain over 20 years ago and soon turned to bees to make a living.

But sadly he is one of only 10 local beekeepers left in the town today.

This however is higher than a decade ago and the group have now set up their own Malaga Association of Beekeepers.

It turns out 80 per cent of all honey sold in Europe comes from Spain – where there are around 26,000 beekeepers of which 6,000 are professional.

Somewhat ironically however 80 per cent of the honey consumed here actually comes from China.

“The Spanish tend to go for price over quality,” quipped Rey.

“The honey here is more expensive than the cheap stuff you get in the supermarket but it is much better, and you can taste that. Not all honey is alike. In fact you should talk of honeys, not honey.”

Colmenar can boast the production of seven different types of honey – avocado, orange blossom, forest, chestnut, rosemary, thyme and eucalyptus.

Each has its own unique taste depending on the nearby flowers.

The town – nestled between the foothills of the Sierra de Camaroles – is also known for its cold meats and sausages and hosts an annual wine and chacinas (dried pork meats) fiesta each December.

During the fiesta, visitors are invited to taste all kinds of the best local cold cuts accompanied by litres of local wine.

And aside from it gastronomic delights Colmenar, with its steep, narrow streets clustered around the 17th century hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, offers stunning countryside and an enviable climate.

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