By Catherine McGeer • 09 August 2023 • 12:39
Nurturing Murcia's Bees: Overcoming Challenges, Embracing Sustainability, and Savouring Local Honey
Image: Shutterstock/ Clinton Kay
THE honey harvest in the Region of Murcia has experienced a surprising boost thanks to spring rain, countering the extreme heat of the summer. Beekeepers in the area anticipate a production increase of 10% to 20% compared to last year. However, they caution that the beekeeping sector is facing difficulties due to declining sales.
The beekeeping industry in Murcia started the year grappling with the consequences of a drought that led to reduced pollen availability during the flowering season. The initial months were marked by one of the most challenging situations in recent times. Nonetheless, spring rains, particularly in May and June, came to the rescue, mitigating the dire predictions. According to Carlos Zafra, a Coag Murcia technician, honey production is estimated to rise by 10% to 20% by the end of the season.
Zafra highlights that the storms in May and June played a crucial role in supporting bee colonies amidst the scorching summer heat. The delayed spring has turned out to be remarkably beneficial, allowing the bees to find sustenance in July, averting a potential disaster and resulting in a more significant harvest than anticipated, considering the widespread drought.
However, the industry faces several challenges. These include the import of products from third-world countries, escalating costs, higher fuel expenses due to the seasonal migration of hives, and decreased consumption. Moreover, a challenging year unfolds with depressed honey prices and plummeting sales. The difficulty in selling preserved honey from the previous year is compounded by an unprecedented influx of imported honey. This unfortunate situation has left beekeepers with overflowing warehouses of unsold honey, underscoring the predicament they currently face.
The honeybee species found in southeastern Spain, primarily Apis mellifera iberica, is a hybrid of dominant subspecies in western Europe. Concerns had arisen about their future due to the introduction of queens from other European bee populations. However, recent research by De la Rua and Serrano from the University of Murcia, based on mitochondrial DNA studies, has shown that the region’s hives have maintained their own genetic traits which will help the long term help of the bees in the region.
While the honey harvest in the Region of Murcia thrives due to various factors, the well-being of bees is essential not only for honey production but also for the broader ecosystem. Bees play a crucial role in pollination, aiding the reproduction of plants and ensuring a diverse and healthy environment. Here are ways we can contribute to their well-being:
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I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!
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