Support Murcia’s Beekeepers for a Sweeter Future

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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.

Challenges faced by the bee keeping industry

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.

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The honeybee species found in southeastern Spain, primarily Apis mellifera iberica. Image: Shutterstock/Jessicadlcm

Bees found in the Region of Murcia

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.

Supporting Bees: How we can help

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:

  1. Plant Bee-Friendly Gardens: Cultivating gardens with a variety of flowering plants that bloom throughout the year can provide bees with a consistent source of food. Opt for native plants, as they are better adapted to local conditions and are more attractive to native bee species.
  2. Avoid Pesticides: Pesticides, including insecticides and herbicides, can harm bees and other pollinators. Whenever possible, choose natural pest control methods or less harmful alternatives to protect both plants and pollinators.
  3. Provide Water: Bees need water, especially during hot weather. Create a shallow water source with rocks or floating objects to help bees access water without the risk of drowning.
  4. Support Local Beekeepers: Purchasing honey from local beekeepers supports the beekeeping industry and encourages sustainable practices. It also ensures you’re getting honey that’s produced in your region, often with less environmental impact.
  5. Learn About Beekeeping: Educate yourself about beekeeping practices and the challenges facing bee populations. By understanding their needs and struggles, you can advocate for policies and initiatives that promote bee health.
  6. Reduce Lawn Size: Lawns offer limited food and habitat for bees. Consider replacing some lawn areas with flowering plants, creating more diverse and bee-friendly landscapes.
  7. Participate in Citizen Science: Join community programs that monitor bee populations and contribute data to better understand bee health and behaviours. This involvement can aid researchers and policymakers in making informed decisions.
  8. Create Bee Nests: Some solitary bee species don’t live in hives but rather use individual nests. Providing nesting blocks or bundles of hollow stems can attract these solitary bees to your garden.
  9. Spread Awareness: Educate your friends and family about the importance of bees and the threats they face. By raising awareness, you can encourage others to take action as well.
  10. Advocate for Bee-Friendly Policies: Support policies that protect pollinators and their habitats. Encourage local governments to limit pesticide use, promote green spaces, and establish protected areas for bees and other wildlife.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

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!

Comments


    • concha

      10 August 2023 • 16:18

      I live in the “Altiplano de Murcia” and I’d love to know where I can buy honey locally. Thanks for a very interesting and informative article.

      • Catherine McGeer

        10 August 2023 • 17:22

        Hi, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I found the following places where you can buy honey from Murcia: La Magia del Colmenar (honey farm)
        Miel emocion (honey farm)
        La Colmenamurcia.com (shop with a large range of honey from Murcia)
        lamieleria.com is an online shop that sells honey from Murcia.

        Also if you check in your local herbolario they may have some or if not they will know where to buy it for sure.
        I hope this helps.
        Catherine x

    Comments are closed.