Outlook for honey not so sweet

The use of pesticides by crop farmers and the repercussions of climate change are having an increasingly negative impact on the production of honey in Greece as well as many other countries in the broader region, experts have told Kathimerini. The increasing tendency by farmers to spray their crops with chemicals is currently the biggest problem, according to Andreas Thrasyvoulos, professor of apiculture at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. He told Kathimerini that the widespread use of pesticides had resulted in the dwindling of potential sources of pollen. «A few years ago 10 percent of Greek honey came from cotton flowers but that is no longer the case,» Thrasyvoulos said, noting that beekeepers are now avoiding cotton plantations due to the liberal use of pesticides there by farmers. The problems caused by climate change are equally real though less imminent, according to experts. «The dry spells caused by climate change have affected crops by limiting their pollen production, which ultimately means less honey in hives,» Thrasyvoulos said. He and other apiculturists are now proposing that Greece consider implementing measures to offset the losses suffered by the sector due to the impact of pesticides and climate change, which is expected to have a serious impact on Greece’s environment over the next 10 years. European Union subsidies for boosting Greece’s apiculture sector are in the region of 5.4 million euros a year, according to official estimates. Some experts are proposing that Greece follow the example of Israel which has started cultivating special pollen-rich crops to offset the losses to its honey production caused by the reduced pollen production of other crops. A reported increase in the bee populations of Greece and other European countries has not helped counter the problems posed by climate change and pesticides, according to experts who say that the chief scourge is that of low pollen production by crops.