Vita Bee Health Global Honeybee Health Experts

A tough year for many beekeepers

Source: USDA, public domain

Reports from around the world indicate that 2019 has been a tough year for many beekeepers.

In Chile, a severe decade-long drought in parts of the country has been devastating for some beekeepers with one reported to have lost half his hives … “spring rains once led to fields of dandelion flowers in Casablanca, a town on the Chilean Pacific coast. Now, there is just dry earth…

’At the end of winter, bees need flowers to grow and make honey,” [Pablo Alvarez]  told Reuters reporters. No flowers means no food, he added.” More at VOA news.

In eastern Australia, bush fires have taken a toll on all sorts of wildlife and beekeepers have often been the first to see the devastation. At least one beekeeper has arranged counselling for his young workers who have been traumatised by what they have seen. “The fires were that hot in places that some beekeepers, who have a fairly good understanding of their local bush, don’t believe those trees will be flowering or producing nectar and pollen for the bees for at least 20 years and in some cases they don’t believe it’ll be in their lifetime,” Stephen Targett president of New South Wales Apiarists Association told Australia’s ABC News.

In Europe, unpredictable weather has also blighted beekeeping as reported:

Italy’s main agricultural union Coldiretti said 2019 has been a “black year”, with “a harvest almost halved” from the 23,300 tonnes of honey collected in 2018. More than 1000 extreme weather events were reported – up 50% on 2018.

In France, it’s expected to be “the worst on record”, according to the National Union of French Beekeeping (UNAF), with “fewer than 9,000 tonnes”—almost a quarter of the crop harvested in the 1990s.

In Spain, the harvest has been poor since 2015, with a drop of 5.2% in 2017 and a 2018 season which was “not up to expectations”, according to the country’s agriculture ministry.

Portugal has had fierce forest fires, especially amongst its (plentiful) eucalyptus trees which burn easily. Portuguese fire scientists told National Geographic that the only way to solve the problem is by people valuing forests as they once did and use them “for pasturing sheep and goats, or beekeeping, tourism, or small-scale biomass energy generation”.




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