OPG Narandja: Croatian Family Honey Business Succeeds in Europe

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes on the 16th of September, 2020, ten years ago, beekeeper Marijan Narandja, the owner of OPG Narandja, acquired his first 20 or so hives in Veliko Trojstvo near Bjelovar, where he later founded what is now his OPG in which up to two tonnes of honey are produced annually in about 85 bee colonies. He is assisted by his wife Vlasta and his daughter Ela, an “intern beekeeper” who told spoke in more depth about the family business.

”OPG Narandja’s dominant product is acacia honey, we also have linden and flower honey, and every year we send samples for analysis to the Central Laboratory for Honey Quality Control and we achieve the highest marks. Acacia was awarded a gold medal for quality, and linden honey got a silver medal in 2017 and in 2018 from the Beekeepers’ Association of Bjelovar-Bilogora County. Our Super Honey is also really popular, it’s an ‘immunobomb’ of three types of honey, propolis and raw pollen. We also sell honey in honeycomb, propolis, pollen, pure beeswax, and handmade wax figurines,” stated the young beekeeper.

Markets, fairs, but also Facebook…

The products are sold at the Bjelovar market and in the City of Zagreb, they’re also present in Bjelovar’s primary school system through the Med programme which takes place in schools and of course on School Honey Day, as well as on several websites for family farms, on Facebook, Instagram and even on LinkedIn. OPG Narandja accepts orders online from Zagreb, and sends larger quantities by bus throughout Croatia.

“We’re at fairs several times a year, in Bilogora and Medjimurje. This year we decided to drive our honey down to Dalmatia. Our honey is also present all over Europe thanks to friends who buy it from us – from Markaryd in Sweden where honey is eaten from the honeycomb, through to Munich and Neunburg vorm Wald in Germany – they love linden and flower honey, all the way to Klagenfurt and Ljubljana where classic acacia does best, as does our Super honey,” they stated from OPG Narandja. This Croatian family company advises people to buy honey from proven Croatian honey producers.

When it comes beekeeping, Ela says, there are large investments, from the constant renewal of the number of bee colonies, the purchase of equipment and new hives, the replacement of queens, the treatment for the bees, preparations for strengthening the bees’ immunity, the purchase of national jars, printing labels, down to sending honey away for expert analysis…

Many give up…

Therefore, as Ela explained, people who start beekeeping unfortunately tend to quite quickly give up because they don’t realise it’s not a temporary job or hobby.

“During the season, a beekeeper should be out in the apiary every day, he should be constantly educated, he needs to follow trends, be active in beekeeping associations, be present at fairs, on markets… The challenges are also external – recently there was a case of bee death in Medjimurje because a negligent farmer treated his crops with an agent that harms bees,” they explained from OPG Narandja, whose family doesn’t have such problems, but they do heavily depend on the weather conditions.

If there has been a frost or too much rain occurs in May when it comes to the acacia honey, the amount of honey obtained can drop by more than 50 percent.

”The worst was back in 2019, and the best was in 2018 when we got almost two tonnes of honey. This year is roughly somewhere in between,” they state from the family business. Although they sell less at the Bjelovar market because the number of customers has decreased, they are doing excellently in Zagreb because people, as they say, have turned more to purchasing Croatian products.

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