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Bortnichestvo is the original form of forest beekeeping, which is based on the content of bees in borts. Bort is a natural or man-made hollow in a living tree with a nest of wild bees.
Bortnichestvo is an ancient craft of the native population of Bashkortostan. For many centuries, the development of bortnichestvo in the Urals was favored by nature itself – dense virgin forests that stretch for hundreds of kilometers and abound in honey-bearing vegetation, and full-flowing rivers.
According to the preserved records of ancient travelers, it can be assumed that the ancestors of modern Bashkirs began hunting for wild bees’ honey no later than the middle of the first-millennium AD. This is confirmed by the research of the Birsky burial ground, opened in 1902 on the territory of modern Bashkortostan. Scientists have determined its age at about fifteen hundred years. It contains the complete equipment of a forest honey miner. Besides that, they found prototypes of modern smokers - charred logs-firebrands, apparently used by beekeepers to scare off bees with smoke.
At first, beekeeping was a primitive. Man found bee nests in the hollows of trees, sometimes in the crevices of rocks, and destroyed them, taking all the honey. Over time, hunters for forest sweetness began to make attempts to preserve bee families in natural hollows for the future.
By the 18th century, primitive beekeeping had become a more organized form of beekeeping. The adaptation of natural and the creation of artificial borts for spontaneous settlement by bees began. There were many forest honey lands, in which one Bashkir had thousands of two or more borts marked with a generic sign (Tamga).