Honeybee colonies are essential for agriculture and the environment, they ensure plant reproduction by pollination, whilst beekeeping contributes to the development of rural areas.
Beekeeping is practised in all EU countries and is characterised by diverse production conditions, yields and beekeeping practices. The EU is the second most important honey producers after China, however, the EU is also a net importer of honey from third countries. EU countries with the largest honey production (Romania, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Greece, France, Poland and Bulgaria) are located mainly in Southern Europe where climatic conditions are more favourable to beekeeping.
The EU numbers approximately 600 000 beekeepers and 16 million hives according to 2016 data reported by the Member States. Only 4 % of EU beekeepers have over 150 hives, commonly considered the minimum for professional producers. This figure gives only an average indication of the number of hives as they can vary based on the country. This is mainly caused by what can be the viable revenue from beekeeping therefore the boundary between professionals and amateurs can vary across countries.
The main challenge that beekeepers face across the board is profitability, it is crucial for the sustainability of the apiculture sector. Like other agricultural producers, beekeepers must cope with production and other market challenges. When it comes to production, various factors can affect the productivity in a beekeeping enterprise such as outbreaks of animal diseases, exposure to chemicals, losses in plant diversity, adverse climatic conditions, deterioration of bees’ natural habitats caused by natural or human factors. These factors are among the reasons for having increase in bee health problems and high mortality rates of the bees. That can cause of course not only economical problem of apiculture but also causes a much wider concern. The role of the bees in the natural pollination of cultivated crops and wild plants should never be underestimated as bees’ health problems can cause environmental problems and also can be crucial for food production.
Having said all of the above, we should be thinking a lot how to stimulate and protect the beekeeping as losing this part of the apiculture sector can cause much more then we actually can comprehend. This is why our mission is to help the honey producers by providing them with a wider market which can stimulate the economic side of the beekeeping. This would affect the way the bees are being cared for as stimulating the economical factor and increasing the demand for producers would accelerate the rate at which they would be able to invest in all kinds of measures for having better health conditions for the bees.
Of course we have more to say on that subject and we have higher goals that we would aim to achieve so we can help even further with improving the conditions for beekeeping but that will follow down the road…