Bees handled the winter unusually well, and there will be plenty of honey

Bee colonies in the Czech Republic survived this winter without significant losses, and beekeepers estimate that this year’s beekeeping year will be good. Last year and the year before were worse: as many as half of the Czech bees died during the winter.

“We have no reports of bee colony deaths yet,” Jarmila Machová, the Czech Beekeepers’ Association chairwoman, confirmed the excellent forecast.

April is the first month of the year in which the bee colony gains strength after the winter. According to the beekeepers, it is possible to draw the first conclusions on how the bees have coped with the winter.

“No significant bee deaths of bacterial or viral origin have been recorded. Beekeepers are also managing to control bee mite numbers with medicinal treatments, and the spring development of the colonies is also following the classic weather pattern. Therefore, it can be said that the bee colonies are in good health and ready for a good quality Czech honey crop,” Milan Špaček from Medokomerc, the largest honey processor in the Czech Republic, told Právo.

He pointed out that more than half or a third of Czech bees died in winter in the previous two years. This year, however, the situation is much happier.

“The bees have coped with the winter unusually well,” he summarised. He recalled the statement by José Graziano da Silva, former Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, that bees are a sign of well-functioning ecosystems. While the number of bee colonies has been declining worldwide for a long time, the number of honey bee colonies in the Czech Republic increased last year. There were 661 000 bees, up 19 000 year-on-year.

The price will not increase dramatically

According to Machová, chairwoman of the beekeepers’ association, it is premature to talk about honey prices at the beginning of the season.

“However, I expect that if the weather is favorable and there is a good harvest, the price of honey from beekeepers will not increase dramatically,” she added.

According to statistics, a kilogram of honey cost an average of CZK 167 last July. The war in Ukraine will reduce the supply of Ukrainian honey, but there should still be plenty of honey in the Czech Republic.

“Beekeeping is based on hobby breeders. We are self-sufficient in honey production,” Machová noted.

In 2020, the Czech Republic produced 4997 tonnes of honey, the lowest since 2002, when the Czech Statistical Office (CSO) tracked production. Last year, more than 6,000 tonnes of honey were produced.

However, Špaček pointed out that production has been declining over the past five years; for example, in 2016, more than 10 000 tonnes of honey were produced, while production increased slightly only last year. However, according to him, the oilseed rape hybrid, where farmers prefer yield over nectar production, hurts honey production.