Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 15.COM 8.B.42

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Poland and Belarus have nominated Tree beekeeping culture (no. 01573) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Tree beekeeping culture includes knowledge, skills, practices, traditions, rituals and beliefs connected to wild bees breeding in tree hives or log hives located in forest areas. Tree beekeepers take care of bees in a special way by trying to recreate the primeval living conditions in tree hives without interfering with the natural life cycle of the bees. Tree beekeepers have no goal of intensifying honey production, which is one of the features that differentiates them from beekeepers. Tree beekeeping therefore requires advanced skills and knowledge of traditional methods and tools. Tree beekeepers are lifelong learners: through direct contact with swarms and the natural environment, they constantly acquire new knowledge about the life of the bees and the ecosystem. There are also numerous social practices resulting from the practice as well as culinary and traditional medicine traditions. As in the past, the transmission of the element takes place mainly in tree beekeepers’ families and through the act of brotherhoods. Nowadays, however, workshops offer another mode of transmission during which participants learn from each other through group activities. Tree beekeeping fosters a sense of community belonging and a shared awareness of our responsibility towards the environment.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Transmitted across the generations, tree beekeeping culture is a longstanding tradition of rural families that take care of bees in tree hives. The practice is the basis for dialogue on shared collective memory. As a source of pride for its bearers, tree beekeeping culture includes culinary practices, crafts and traditional medicine, and is also connected with religious activities. Tree beekeepers bring communities together and increase people’s awareness about nature, connections in the ecosystem and, above all, each other. The element is fully compliant with existing human rights, the principles of sustainable development and the need to preserve biodiversity.

R.2:   At the national and international levels, the States Parties have explained that the inscription of the element would promote the principles of sustainable development and their relation with intangible cultural heritage and highlight the potential importance of traditional practices for the preservation of biodiversity and even for food safety. The inscription would also increase the visibility of elements related to traditional medicine, crafts and culinary practices. As the element is spread across different areas of Poland and Belarus, its inscription would strengthen the cooperation among the different groups of bearers and promote dialogue with other tree beekeepers around the world. The States Parties have also described the importance of the inscription for strengthening the relation between the Representative List under the 2003 Convention and the World Heritage List under the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, especially for natural properties.

R.3:   In both Poland and Belarus, tree beekeeping families and brotherhoods play a fundamental role in ensuring the viability of the element. The risk of decontextualization, as a possible negative effect of increased public attention resulting from the inscription, would be prevented through educational, research and awareness-raising initiatives. The tree beekeeping brotherhoods, with the support of local cultural centres and museums, have planned a series of expeditions, workshops, conferences, publications and exhibitions to promote scientific and reliable knowledge about tree beekeeping culture. The States Parties will support the implementation of the proposed safeguarding measures mainly through dedicated financing, increased cooperation and dialogue facilitation.

R.4:   The initiative to nominate Tree beekeeping culture for inscription on the Representative List came directly from the bearers of the element. The preparation of the nomination was preceded by thorough consultations with the bearers from both States, including the communities concerned, families and individual tree beekeepers, as well as with the relevant authorities and non-governmental organizations such as brotherhoods of tree beekeepers. They contributed to the final text of the nomination file and defined the safeguarding measures.

R.5:   In Poland, the element was included in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, maintained by the National Heritage Board of Poland, in 2016. In Belarus, the element was included in both the State Register of Historical and Cultural Values of the Republic of Belarus, maintained by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus, and the Belarusian National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, maintained by the Information and Analytical Department of the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts, in 2017. The bearers are directly involved in the identification and inventorying of the elements and play a central role in research and data collection as well as in the post-inscription monitoring. Both inventories are regularly updated.

  1. Decides to inscribe Tree beekeeping culture on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;

  2. Commends the States Parties for presenting a nomination file that demonstrates a deeply-rooted awareness of the need to safeguard the element in relation with the sustainable development of the local communities concerned, the ecological balance as well as the natural and cultural landscape;

  3. Further commends the States Parties for presenting a nomination file that demonstrates an exemplary participation of the communities concerned, the bearers and representatives from schools, museums and local institutions.