Greek beekeeping in numbers 1.500.000 bee colonies 17.000 beekeepers 6000 professionals (>150 colonies) ~20.000 tons of honey/year ~15 kgr/colony /year 12 colonies/km 2 4 transportations per year on average
Honey production cost is high Honey yield per colony and year is low Yet, the quality of Greek Honey is unique
Beekeeping in Greece has certain very specific characteristics Mountainous land Hot-dry climate Farming area is ~ 28% of the land GMO free High biodiversity ~ 6500 plant taxa Colonies have to be moved a lot (transhumance) Low production per hive 15 kgr of honey/colony/year
Greece-usually!- has a very small percentage of bee losses (~10%) Three reasons: Small fraction of bee foraging in crops/foraging in natural ecosystems (small exposure to pesticides) Rich biodiversity and a long productive period (winters are short) The Greek beekeeper’s mentality: lost colonies must be replaced ASAP
Causes of bee losses in Greece Climate change – extreme weather phenomena become frequent (scorchers, drought, floods, strong winds) Loss of bee foraging habitat (forest fires, over-grazing, tourism,urbanization) Pesticides and particularly neonicotinoids
Bees that fed on crops where neonicotinoids were used, exhibit some 35-50% losses in the following 8-month period. Colony defense collapses and it becomes vulnerable to several pathogens, the way an AIDS patient is…
Cotton honey: a great paradigm Before neonicotinoids, which are systemic, sprayings in cotton killed a lot of forager bees Still the outcome was a positive one as the colony managed to gather about 30 kgr of honey and replace the foragers lost Nowadays, after the massive losses the beekeepers have suffered from 2005 and on, the 3000 tons of cotton honey are history… By the way, cotton honey is a very tasty flower honey with great antibacterial and antioxidant properties!
In 2011 and 2012 more than 10.000 colonies died off in Attica and some islands, because of sprayings on palm trees with neonicotinoid insecticides approved for red beatle control
The beekeeper replaces the bee colonies he has lost Bee colony loss is translated into livestock loss and honey production loss and consequently income loss for the beekeeper. How long can beekeepers stay in business making up for the damage on their own ?
What is OMSE doing ? How can we achieve a pollinator friendly agricultural model?
Political pressure through wide political and social alliances Greek Mps και MEPs Greenpeace Scientists –Scientific organisations Consumer organisations Farmers unions –Organic Farmers unions NGOs Internet Campaigning Communities (avaaz, change etc) Coordination with Europe’s beekeepers (EPBA, CoEur)
Action for co-existence In 2012-2013 we organised 3 events in 3 cities (Chania, Nafplion and Arta) to bring beekeepers and orange growers together
What the Greek beekeepers ask: Legal support in EU level for Protection from pesticides Protection from GMOs Clear distinctions between locally produced beekeeping products from imported ones posing as local
We propose: The 'bee-friendly' label should be included in the EU legislation on agricultural product quality as a quality term
We propose: Direct aid to beekeepers from the 2nd pillar of the CAP for their contribution to food production, to the environment and biodiversity In countries like Greece where bees provide pollination, for the most part, to non-cultivated plants and beekeepers pay additional costs for moving the bees (transhumance) we request from the Community to include in the new CAP a “pollination subsidy”
We propose: The 3 –year apiculture programmes (Regulation EC 1234/07) should run on a 7- year basis in harmony with the CAP
Our thanks To the Green MEP’s for all their efforts to support the bees and European beekeeping!