“There is an old saying that says the closer one is born to the sunrise the bigger one’s luck is with bees. Because I was born when the sun was rising they predicted that I was going to be a beekeeper.”
Mr Janko Pislak was born in November 1934 in Doklece pri Ptujski gori. He learned to be a woodworker and acquired the title of a woodworking master. His first encounter with the bees was at beekeeper Rincs‘ home. He was ten years old at the time. He was thrilled by the colourful beehives which had an enticing smell. But it was not until he tasted the precious honey that he made a lifetime decision: to become a beekeeper.
His dreams started to come true shortly after. In 1946 he had received some money as a gift at his confirmation and immediately bought his first bee swarm at beekeeper Rincs’. Then he weaved a basket out of clematis and besmeared it with clay. Beekeeper Rinc helped him to settle the bees in. His first colony wintered well and the next year he developed four bee swarms. He settled them into baskets he made while pasturing cows. In 1951 he started to learn for a woodworker and by then he already had 40 baskets with bees.
In spring of 1952 he made his first three AŽ hives (named after the Slovenian beekeeper Anton Žnidaršič who invented a special construction of hives). The next year he made nine hives and the year after that twelve more and his first bee house. In 1958 he built his second bee house with forty-eight hives. In that year he had seventy-two AŽ hives and two bee houses.
At the beginning he had sold his honey to the Agricultural Cooperatives and to the company Agromel in Ljubljana but in 1960 he began to cooperate with the company Medex.
Together with practical experiences with bees, Janko Pislak also gained theoretical knowledge among his village beekeepers that selflessly passed on their experiences. In 1952 he joined the Beekeeping Society Lovrenc na Dravskem polju and became a subscriber of the first professional magazine in Slovene language called Slovenski čebelar (Slovenian beekeeper). Later on, he attended many lectures at the beekeeper Korošec in Ptujska gora, Mr Ačko and Komel in Ptuj and many others. They taught him about the basic care of bees, how to make bee products and how to identify and fight bee diseases.
During that time he got to know Dr. Jože Rihtar, who was familiar with the technology of making all of the bee products. He was an outstanding expert and he introduced him to the technology of extracting royal jelly and pollen. Janko Pislak then combined his own experiences with the gained knowledge from beekeepers that studied in France and in 1963 he started to extract pollen and in 1964 royal jelly. At that time he already had 250 hives.
After schooling with academician Ivo Tomašec at the Department of Biology and Pathology of Bees at Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of University of Zagreb in the seventies and at the “Imkerschule” in Graz Austria he started working on breeding and selecting queens of the Carniolan bee breed. The Carniolan bee is also known as Apis mellifera carnica.
In the beginning his wife Milena Pislak was the only one who helped him with his work with the bees, but because the production was constantly expanding he needed to hire more helpers.
Janko Pislak acquired priceless theoretical and practical knowledge by being in daily, close contact with the bees and working with them with love and enthusiasm. He also lectured and participated in many lectures, courses, seminars and the World Beekeeping Congress Apimondia.
He used to pass on his knowledge to younger generations of beekeepers, in later years mainly with advice.
HIS CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS THE SLOVENE BEEKEEPING IS SHOWN WITH MANY INVENTIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS IN THE AREA OF BEEKEEPING TECHNOLOGY.
His most famous innovations:
Pislak’s feeder; practical and rational
He invented a movable queen excluder and a bee escape which considerably relieves the work and procedures in the bee colony.
He was the first one to provide a bigger work space with a side addition (trailer hive) for the bee colony in an AŽ hive. It can be used for the extended income of honey at minor number of procedures and also as an independent hive for a reserve colony or for selling bee colonies.
After thorough examination and measurements of the bee ways in a test hive he defined the width of the bee ways between combs in the AŽ hives. Therefore, today’s AŽ hive with 10 combs measures 37, 7 cm.
He started making the royal jelly in presence of the queen bee.
He introduced an economical system for transporting hives onto pastures. It was a transport unit for 72 AŽ hives which has a working area for grafting and extracting honey in the middle. The transport unit can be prepared for transportation in 15 minutes by a single person. Two of the colonized transporting units can be attached together and 144 hives can be transported with a tractor.
He invented the queen introduction cage.
JANKO PISLAK RECEIVED MANY ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND REWARDS FOR HIS WORK AND SELFLESS SHARING OF HIS KNOWLEDGE ABOUT BEEKEEPING:
An acknowledgement from the France Beekeeping Organization and Austrian Beekeeping Organization
Numerous acknowledgements from the former Yugoslavian Beekeeping Association and Federal Republics
Acknowledgements of various beekeeping families
An acknowledgement from Medex
The Anton Janša order: I, II, III degree
The Peter Pavel Glavar reward
The Yugoslavian order of working with the silver wreath
Order for Service from Republic of Slovenia
In spring 2013 he became very ill and died on 16th April. He was a beekeeper until the end of his life. He left us an infinite treasure of knowledge, love and respect for bees that meant so much to him. In June 2014 the Beekeeping Society Slivnica pri Mariboru honoured him with a beekeeping educational path. The path is named after him. He was a great beekeeper and a great man and for that he will never be forgotten.
For more information contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions