While they are living a “disastrous” year, French beekeepers are sounding the alarm on honey. The 2021 harvest will be between 7,000 and 9,000 tonnes only, or less than half of that of 2020, due to the very unfavorable weather conditions in spring and summer, lamented the National Union of French beekeeping on Monday, Unaf.
“This is the worst year for French beekeeping,” considers this organization, which recalls that the previous year had been a good year with 18,000 to 20,000 tonnes. In 1995, France produced around 32,000 tonnes of honey. In 2019, the harvest was less than 10,000 tonnes.
The Unaf believes that “the climatic upheaval, felt by beekeepers for a good fifteen years is there”. In many areas, long periods of frost, cold and rain followed one another throughout the spring and much of the summer. Consequence: “the bees could not benefit from the blooms”.
No acacia honey
If the rapeseed honey harvests were poor in most regions, the acacia honey harvests, wiped out by late frosts and rains, were “nil throughout the country”, according to the organization. In the South, harvests of spring honey such as rosemary, thyme, white heather or garrigue, were nil or mediocre. In the South-East, however, the lavender honey harvest was successful.
Chestnut honey harvests are everywhere mediocre. In the mountains, the honeydews turned out to be generally bad because they were often too short. In the East, those of forest or fir, are almost nil. The sunflower harvest varies depending on the basin but is often disappointing. The only small point of consolation for beekeepers: the predation of the hornet was very low in 2021. Like the bees, it suffered from bad weather conditions …
State alerted in July
In July, Unaf alerted the state services to implement the agricultural disaster regime in order to help beekeepers pass this course. Several departments have already initiated the procedure.
Consumers should not, however, notice shortages on the shelves. The origin of the honeys will however be different from those currently sold. According to Christian Pons, president of Unaf, “there will be less French honey in stores but a lot of foreign honey”.