More beehives and beekeepers thanks to EU support


(Matthew T Rader, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

The number of beehives and beekeepers in the EU have increased over the years, resulting in a growth of EU honey production of 16% between 2014 and 2018. This is one of the key findings of the report on implementation of the EU apiculture programmes, published today by the European Commission.

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said: “The apiculture sector is crucial to agriculture and biodiversity in general. We need to encourage beekeepers across the EU, and this is why I fully support the increase in EU funding for the next 3-years apiculture programme to €180 million from €120 million, as part of the Commission’s proposal for the next agriculture budget.”

Today’s report provides an overview of the sector and of the implementation of the support measures rolled out through EU’s apiculture programmes.

With 17.5 million hives in the EU, managed by 650,000 beekeepers, the EU produced 280,000 tonnes of honey in 2018. Beekeeping is practiced in all EU Member States and the European Union is the world’s second largest honey producer.

The EU co-finances apiculture programmes that are designed at national level in cooperation with the sector with the aim to improve the conditions for the apiculture sector and the marketing of their products. The programmes run for three years at a time, and during, 2017-2019, an annual EU contribution of €36 million was made available, which is doubled by national funds. For 2020-2022, the annual EU contribution increased from €36 million to €40 million. The budget allocated for every Member State is based on the number of beehives notified to the EU.

In 2018, among the eight eligible measures for apiculture programmes, the measures receiving the most available funding with almost 60% combined were technical assistance (for example trainings, support to purchase technical equipment, support for young beekeepers) and combating beehive invaders. Restocking of beehives and assistance with managing the movement of beehives during the flowering season accounted for more than 30% of the budget combined. Other measures include applied research, analyses of apiculture products, product improvement and market monitoring.

Concerning the post-2020 CAP proposals, the Commission proposed to include the apiculture programmes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plans. These plans, designed at national level, set out how each Member State intends to meet the CAP’s objectives. This will increase the visibility of the apiculture sector while ensuring its contribution to the overall objectives of the CAP, including on climate action.

The programmes will also be made mandatory for Member States to ensure continuous uptake and support.

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