The bee is one of Earth’s oldest inhabitants. To this day, it continues to provide invaluable service to both plants and people and to help maintain nature’s balance. On occasion, it even changes the lives of some people. One such person is Dimitris Hasapis, a former stockbroker who lived and worked in Athens. Married to a beekeeper’s daughter, he had only one answer to those who urged him over the years to get involved in beekeeping: “Me, a beekeeper? Never!”
More than a decade ago, however, during a trip to his native island of Limnos, Hasapis helped an old priest, a friend of his father’s, who had fallen ill. The priest had beehives and needed Dimitris’ help to tend to them. That was all it took; Hasapis immediately fell in love with the magical world of bees!
Not long after, the erstwhile stockbroker took the leap, returning to Limnos to begin working as a beekeeper. Hasapis started with 10 beehives; today, he has 200. “You have to love what you do, to love nature and bees, in order to be willing to work from morning to night for parts of the year. During these times, there’s a good chance you won’t even speak to anybody for hours,” he says.
In early 2011, Hasapis founded his own beekeeping business on Limnos, Honey Hasapis, in Moudros, the village where he was born. A stickler for detail when it comes to beekeeping, he is a perfectionist, making sure he abides by all of the strict honey production and control criteria in place. He packages his honey himself in his own facilities, which are HACCP-certified, and, of course, he has a license from the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food. He cleans his old hive boxes with a blowtorch and keeps the honeycombs he gathers in a special refrigerator, disinfecting them properly when he stores them.
Hasapis constantly checks the quality of his honey, analyzing it carefully, and regularly collaborates with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of the Aegean in order to assess its antimicrobial properties, its thyme pollen grain content and its nutritional value. According to these analyses, his honey has a high concentration of thyme pollen grains and strong antimicrobial properties, stronger even than that of the famed Manuka honey! His thyme honey, unheated and raw, is highly aromatic and is produced in limited batches. His bees gather pollen in the virgin wild thyme meadows on Limnos, mainly in the coastal areas of Moudros and Skandali.
Hasapis has won awards and distinctions in every international competition he has taken part in, including a World Beekeeping Award bestowed on his company by the Apimondia Congress. This year, at a contest that took place on Limnos, his honey finished first among 40 in a blind tasting contest organized by the leading Greek food magazine Gastronomos. Upon receiving his award, Hasapis said: “I didn’t win this on my own. I had the help of professors and researchers to whom I owe a lot, including Andreas Thrasyvoulos and Chrysoula Tananaki and their colleagues from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; Fani Hatzina from the Department of Apiculture of Halkidiki and her colleagues; and Konstantinos Gatzionis from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the Aegean University.”
Honey Hasapis won First Prize at the 16th Gastronomos Quality Awards, organized by Gastronomos, Greece’s leading food magazine and held in December of 2023.
This article was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.