In pagan times, bees were sacred in Lithuanian culture and even today the honey bee is a symbol of friendship in the country, so it’s appropriate that one of the odder tourist attractions is the Museum of Ancient Beekeeping amid the lakes and low hills of Aukštaitija National Park.
Founded in 1984, the museum spreads through six buildings, detailing the history of beekeeping in Lithuania, tool collections and ancient beehives. Outside there are several glass-sided hives
where visitors can see the bees at work, and a large number of the displays are devoted to myths surrounding the humble bee in ancient Egyptian, Native American and pagan Lithuanian cultures, as well as sculptures of the Lithuanian bee gods Babilas and Austeja. Wood carvings along a forest trail illustrate the development of beekeeping from the days of wild bee hunting–when beekeepers would simply follow the swarm – through primitive hives made out of hollowed logs to present-day commercial hives. Guests get the chance to sample honey at the end of their visit, and August 15 each year sees the celebration of Medkopio šventė, the “feast of honey and bread,” at the museum with much merrymaking and tasting of the year’s honey.
The Museum of Ancient Beekeeping is located 60 miles (100 km) north of Vilnius in Aukštaitija National Park. The museum is open from May through October, Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission costs 3.50LTL, and concessions cost 2LTL.