Honey has turned into a luxury item in recent years, as it disappears from more and more households and is replaced by other sweeteners and honey substitutes.
For several years now, the beekeeping sector has been facing serious problems concerning, on the one hand, production costs and reduced production, and on the other hand, the problems created in the market by Greekization and counterfeiting.
Every year and better, said its president Beekeeping Cooperative of Arcadia Mr. Dimakos Stavros, wanting to summarize this year’s beekeeping footprint in one sentence.
Honey is a product of the primary sector, the production of which – from a business point of view – always involves significant risk, while often requiring, in addition to basic equipment, the regular movement of bees (nomadic beekeeping), which significantly increases the cost of for both the producer and the consumer. Also, bee diseases such as louse, which is found in the bees of our area, requires an expensive treatment which will empty the pockets of the producers.
Production in Arcadia is down 70% from 2022 and the damage is immeasurable with more and more producers laying down their arms and leaving the profession in pain. At the same time, the subsidies were reduced by 20%, with the professionals declaring their dissatisfaction, stating characteristically: “It’s done”.
Traditionally in recent years the difficulties faced by the honey producers of Arcadia are many. They are faced with the climate crisis and its effects on trees, flowers and by extension on bees can be dramatic.
Spring never came and in 2023, thus destroying the production of fir honey, since, as he characteristically stated, it rained for 62 days. There was also no flowering, thus zeroing out the production of flower honey.
The production of the beloved, popular honey for producers has been lost for another year, leaving a gap in the market
The only production that thrived this year was that of pine, which was harvested a few days ago.
The pine came to save the year in a sense, as the producers managed to produce honey this autumn
The bees were not in the best condition, because they wanted more food, but the price of sugar has brought beekeepers to their knees, who now have to feed sugar to the bees to keep them alive for more months of the year.
The price of sugar has tripled and has reached 1.40 euros per kilo
Suffice it to say that in 2023 the beehives were maintained with sugar in the summer in the winter, but also in the spring.
It seemed that the year would be bad due to weather conditions, since it was raining until July, Mr. Dimakos said.
The wholesale price for a kilo of Pefko honey today does not exceed 3.5 euros, while after processing and packaging, the honey ends up on the shelf at 7.5 euros.
Many young beekeepers who have recently entered the profession are leaving badly as the climate crisis and the absence of state support leaves them meteoric in the face of disaster.
Soon we will turn the hives into pots, since even if you sell the equipment, no one will buy. No more patience, we’re done
It is worth noting at this point, that more than 100,000 bees were lost from Thessaly, leaving a big gap in the sector with the lack being strongly visible in the production quantities of the domestic product.
Unfortunately, however, imports of counterfeit products labeled as honey will not allow the shortage to be felt.
In the era of precision and increases in food necessities, it is a given that at some point consumers will turn to cheap and questionable quality honeys labeled as Greek.
In a few days, the housewives will make the traditional honey macarons for Christmas, but they will become “jaro macarons” since they will make them with honey of dubious origin, buying whatever is the cheapest they can find that looks like honey, on the supermarket shelves.
The beekeeping industry faces serious and long-term problems that remain unresolved, despite any proposals that have been submitted, and despite the promises made by the State.
There is no strength and courage to carry on, things will continue to be difficult in the coming years and climate change makes the future look ominous