To Bee Or Not To Bee

Romanians all learn from their parents how to love and take care of the bees. They also say that bees and honey should be like love and marriage. If not together then…

Most of the beekeepers in Romania still prefer to use old-fashioned methods of farming bees and increasing the amount of honey they produce, keeping the fantastic quality, never mind the prices. We have all seen the big trailers filled with colourful bee houses in areas with fields full of crops or blossoming fruit trees around the countryside of Romania.

What few people realise is that the beekeeper has to constantly move his bee trailer from location to location depending on the season, the type on honey and so on, Whilst motor vehicles are now used to transport the bees and their homes around, the technology for building and maintaining the hives has not changed at all here; everything is done like 100 years ago – hand made!

In 2010, The Romanian Government opened a project to help the beekeepers expand and increase their production and sales. The rules in Romania for being a professional honey producer are fairly easy to comply with as you only need 150 beehives, compared with up to 500 in other European countries. Further down the scale, if you are a private bee grower you only need 26 beehives so qualify for support and you don’t have to pay 16% taxes on any earnings.

As a result of this initiative in the last year, over 25.000   beekeepers in Romania managed to access the European Funds to help them to expand their business. As honey is still made in the old fashioned way, if you are a Romanian beekeeper and you get up to €3.000 euro from European Funds, your business can instantly grow and your turnover can increase spectacularly. Keep in mind that a full 16 meters trailer packed with coloured bee houses will still cost you a few hundred Euros!!!!

Understanding why honey business is expanding by the day in Romania doesn’t help beekeepers in other parts of Europe. After a disastrous year due to bad weather, British beekeepers suffered from a dramatic drop (70%) in honey production in 2012. They are becoming increasingly frustrated by the funds accorded to their EU counterparts, like Romania and Hungary and questioning why government funds are not reaching them, when funds allocated to countries like Romania and Hungary has contributed to a significant rise in production in the past decade.

British beekeepers look at Romanians and wonder how their honey production increases and how come they got hold of the funds… Whilst some summer sunshine would have helped, the answer is simple: Romanian beekeepers are mostly small family inherited businesses (if you can call them businesses). With €1.000 invested in hives and having learned their skills from their parents, Romanian beekeepers can double or triple their production in a few months. They travel all seasons, mainly during the night with their trailers of hives, helping the bees to find, reach and collect their designated / favourite pollen from unpolluted areas…

Whilst British beekeepers complain that monies made available tend to reach research institutes rather then the beekeepers, the biggest bang for your buck has to come from markets like Romania where relatively small amounts of money can go a long way to stimulate real developments.