It’s a great pleasure to share with you a conversation with Velislava Dimitrova, one of the lucky winners of our one-month promotion IBA Christmas Calendar. Velislava Dimitrova has a platform for stimulating a healthier life called Honey and Healthy. The site also offers its own brand of honey, as well as a blog with many tips, recipes and useful information for those seeking ways to improve their lifestyle. Velislava also has many groups on the social networks, where topics such as the preservation of Bulgarian and world nature, as well as bee-keeping and honey in Bulgaria are discussed.

1/ Hello, Velislava. You have a well-developed platform for a healthy lifestyle. Can you tell us a little bit more about the project? How did the idea originate, when and exactly what do you do?

The idea of ​​Honey & Healthy was inspired by my father’s orchard and bee garden. I grew up in a small Bulgarian town and build the habit of having fresh food on the table with vegetables right from my father’s garden. I was also inspired by my father’s bees and wanted to learn more about them. Later I moved to live in Varnа, then the United States and now in Amsterdam, I love to travel and discover new cultures. During all my travels, I started missing homemade Bulgarian food. The dynamic lifestyles in big cities and the easier access to cheap and junk food are a fact. In search of a balance, I started learning about healthier alternatives, such as various workouts, yoga, traditional foods, and time to choose the right food and prepare it at home. I decided to share all this on the Honey & Healthy’s blog.

2 / Do you think people are looking for a healthier lifestyle in the modern, dynamic world?

Yes, of course. Nowadays people have access to very good food. However, it is important to be aware of the food choices they make and the habits they build because these are the most valuable. Many people are misled by the trends of bio, eco or vegan products and often pay much higher price than what is normal. We need only a little will and some time out of our daily lives to choose the right food. Usually, the food we prepared for ourselves will be much more healthy and tasty, because we will be 100% confident that we eat properly and have made the healthiest choices, which will definitely lead to increased self-esteem and better lifestyle.

3 / You have a very interesting blog with fascinating articles, you have created social pages and groups, you organise events in Bulgaria … Besides, you are also running a honey brand. Why is the Bulgarian honey so healthy and valuable? What distinguishes it from the honey in other countries?

We organise various workshops and seminars where we discuss the different benefits of honey and prepare home made honey candies. The Bulgarian honey is different because we still have very pure nature in Bulgaria and have preserved the culture of growing our bees in the most exquisite way. It is a symbol of quality in many European countries, the most wanted types are acacia, herbal and lavender honey.

4/ Bees are extremely important to the world’s ecosystem, and it is a well-known fact that they are dying more and more. In 2017 Bombus Affinis was also the first recognised bee as an endangered species in the US history. What are the consequences? Where in the world measures are being taken for their preservation and what kind of measures?

One third of the food people consume is pollinated by insects, 80% of these insects are bees. Many countries are currently working to enhance their bee-preservation policy. I do not know if most people know, but there are many bee species, not only the honeybee is important to the plants pollination  (Of course, it is the most valuable specie because of the unique honey it produces).

In America and the Netherlands, for example, innovative methods are used to preserve beekeeping and encourage beekeepers, while the urban beekeeping is gaining in popularity in cities such as New York, Boston and Amsterdam.

I will allow myself to quote the most influential and famous scientist and intellectual of all time Albert Einstein: “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”  The more pollination, the more plants, the more animals and the more people.

5 / You are the creator of the group Save the Bees in Bulgaria – a group for protecting bee families and beekeeping in Bulgaria, as well as protecting the environment and nature in Bulgaria. How does this affect the production of honey and what are the actions that are being taken in particular in Bulgaria?

Preserving bees is important, and taking action in this direction is not such a complicated process. Everyone can contribute with a bit of support in their own region and make the world a better place for bees. Some of the things anyone can do are:

  1. Protect the honey bee habitat by planting more bee-friendly plants. If you notice a lack of green areas in your neighborhood, you can voluntarily plant some wild, rich of nectar plants. Bees also need trees. Create a beehive (a small box or a bowl of water) in which bees can drink water and relax.
  2. Support local beekeepers. You can help bees by helping beekeepers in your region, be interested in their honey products.
  3. Sponsor producers of honey and bee products, so they will not be discouraged by the difficult situation in the industry.
  4. Become a Bee Ambassador You can help save bees by educating friends and family how they can also help bees. They are one of the main factors of our nutrition and lifestyle, and still, they remain invisible to most of us. If one day the bees disappear, this will cause irreversible damage to our economic, relations, lifestyle, nutrition, even if we don’t believe in that.

At the end of January, new changes to the law on beekeeping are taking place. It is reported that the main problems in the Bulgarian beekeeping sector are related to the lack of a register of beekeepers, the need to establish a beekeeping directorate and to alleviate the bureaucratic requirements for beekeepers. Beekeepers in Bulgaria face a lot of challenges and very serious external competition, but I am optimistic.

“When the flowers blossoms, the bee will come.”

Scrikupar Rao

6 / You are one of those who believe in and fight for a better future. There are many people who need promises and believe that their small actions cant contribute to the preservation of the nature. How would you motivate them to believe?

The little things are the ones which make big things happen. Our daily habits and action are those, which are shaping us. Оur way of thinking is of importance if we want to learn to value ourselves, to smile more often and to see the beauty in everything surrounding us. If we want to do that, we will also realise how important is it to care for the nature, to preserve the world’s ocean and throw our garbage where we are supposed to.

7 / What are the most important 5 tips you can give for a healthier lifestyle?

  1. Create small rituals in your everyday life.
  2. Find time for family time and laughter with friends.
  3. Read a good book and find time to rest and recharge.
  4. Sport, walk, meditate
  5. Cook a nice meal.

Simple things we love to do and make us happy!

8 / You say you believe in the power and capabilities of the social networks to connect you with people who think like you. How do you see IBA.Bulgaria in this perspective? What is the utility of the network and what tips for development would you give?

For me, social networks help you communicate with awake and motivated people in Bulgaria and around the world, mostly by using the Honey & Healthy profile on Facebook and Instagram and now on IBA.Bulgaria!

IBA.Bulgaria is definitely an unique network, thanks to which Bulgarians from all around the world can interact and maintain very fast, reliable and quality contacts. I myself have already met amazing people and I am very grateful to IBA.Bulgaria for helping me to find all these potential collaborations. I am standing behind the values ​​of IBA.Bulgaria, in its role of a supporter of the Bulgarian entrepreneurship on a global level and the sustainable development of the international business of Bulgarians from all around the world.