The European Union defines honey as a “natural sugary substance produced by the bee Apis mellifera, from the nectar of flowers or secretions from living parts of plants (…), which the bees collect, transform, combine with specific substances, deposited, dehydrated, stored and let to mature in honeycomb combs.
Production of honey between Member States
According to a 2018 report from this institution on the trade of honey, there are about 600 thousand beekeepers registered with a total of 17 million hives.
Honey production is around 250,000 tonnes per year in the EU, still producing beeswax, pollen, royal jelly and propolis.
Among the countries of the Member States that have bigger production are Germany, Spain, Hungary and Romania with more than 20 thousand tons.
Portugal is in third place, with a production between 10 and 15 thousand tons, along with Bulgaria, France, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.
Despite the world’s second largest honey production, the EU can not meet the high domestic demand.
At the commercial level is the main importer of honey. Of the 200,000 imported tons, the main sources are China, Ukraine, Argentina and Mexico.
20,000 tonnes of honey are exported by the EU to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Canada, USA, Japan and Switzerland.
World honey production
The 2016 data show that China is the world’s largest producer of honey, with more than 500,000 tons produced, followed by the European Union countries with 240,000 tons and Turkey with about 100,000 tons.
When compared to other foreign producers, European beekeepers face relatively high production costs.
The average price of the exported product is also higher than the average price of imported honey. In 2017, the imported kilogram of honey cost an average of €2,23. The kilogram of honey exported to third countries was worth €5,69 on average.
Protect bees and support honey producers
This report also called on the European Commission and the Member States to take measures to protect bees and support beekeepers.
The beekeeping sector is also essential for agriculture, food security and biodiversity as bees play a key role in pollination of both wild and cultivated plants.
Outbreaks of disease, intensive agriculture, exposure to chemicals, loss of natural habitat and adverse weather conditions threaten the survival of hives.
Reinforcing the protection of bee varieties, increasing financial support for beekeepers, banning harmful pesticides and enforcing actions against the import of adulterated honey are some of the measures put forward by the European Congress..