If God had given us eight days in a week, Ioan-Cristian Bica would have made good use of the extra day.   

 

When not looking after members of his congregation,  Copşa Mare's Orthodox priest, who settled in the village twelve years ago and speaks fluent English, is taking care of his own young family together with eighty families of bees.

 

"The congregation is small and cannot fully support me & my family, so I must work at other things. Under Ceaușescu, it was said that a man with 50 families of bees could earn enough money to build himself a house in just three years. Not these days!"

Ioan-Cristian collects a large quantity of honey from his bees, although today this requires him to move the bees around the country in search of early blossom:

 

"We used to get three harvests from each hive a year here in the village. Nowadays, we are lucky to get two because of the overgrazing of sheep. So I pack up the hives in the bee wagon at the end of April and take my bees south." 

In the colder months, Ioan-Cristian makes simple wooden animal toys and paints icons on glass in striking, bold colours. He taught himself to paint and, quite exceptionally, uses oils, which take an age to dry but do not deterioate.