Beekeeping “continues to motivate Algarve entrepreneurs”

The region produces over 1,000 tons of honey every year.

Beekeepers, health, and agriculture technicians participated yesterday in the Algarve’s 13th Regional Beekeeping Meeting to discuss the challenges and threats to beekeeping and the enhancement of products derived from honey.

Jointly organised by the Regional Directorate for Agriculture and Fisheries (DRAP) of the Algarve and the Eastern Algarve Beekeepers Association (Melgarbe), the meeting whose theme was “The Importance of Bees as the main pollinator of crops and essential in the conservation of biodiversity” took place in the DRAP auditorium, in Patacão, in Faro.

Two hundred people, including beekeepers, researchers, health and agriculture technicians, government representatives, and associations, were expected to participate in the meeting. Topics featured the sustainability of the beekeeping sector, challenges and opportunities, and the importance of quality control in developing bee products.

The regional director of agriculture for the Algarve, Pedro Valadas Monteiro, pointed out the importance of the meeting, “not only to discuss the problems and challenges of the sector in the region but also to import good examples to the Algarve from other regions of the country, namely those of the largest organisation in the sector”.

According to Pedro Monteiro, beekeeping “has a very significant weight in the Algarve’s economy”, a region that produces on average more than 1,000 tons per year, where 1,269 beekeepers are registered, of which 1,169 are professionals.

“It is the country’s region where, in terms of percentage, we have the highest proportion of professional beekeepers, that is, of professional collectors who have more than 150 hives”, he underlined.

However, he added, in the Algarve, “there are only three honey mills licensed as honey extraction and processing establishments, although a large number of producers are not licensed because they do not reach 650 kilograms, the amount starting from which licensing is mandatory”.

On the other hand, there are 14 establishments legalised under the industrial licensing regime which, “in practice, are establishments that do not extract honey, but use honey to manufacture final products, such as the famous melosa, which combines arbutus brandy (medronho) and honey”.

According to the official, beekeeping is an economic sector that “continues to motivate Algarve entrepreneurs”, pointing to the 37 projects approved by the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, “which translate into an investment of more than €1.6 million, with public support in the order of €910,000”.

In addition to its importance for the region’s economy, Pedro Monteiro says beekeeping helps “combat interior desertification and protect forest areas, as it is mostly carried out in depopulated territories, highly vulnerable to the risk of fires”.

“Beekeepers are permanently taking care of the bees, that is, they are vigilantes of the rural and forest areas, where the bees graze. They are interested in having a healthy ecosystem to guarantee food and protect the variety, providing an economic income in these territories”, he said.

The impacts of agricultural pesticides, pests, fires and drought on beekeeping were also discussed at the Algarve’s 13th Regional Beekeeping Meeting.

“Combating threats to bees is essential for environmental sustainability, beekeeping and agricultural activity and wild flora. We are, after all, talking about what is considered the most important insect for human life and biodiversity conservation”, concluded the regional director of agriculture in the Algarve.