Spain is the largest producer of honey in the European Union and has more hives than any other member. The estimated annual value of domestic beekeeping (mainly honey, pollen and wax), with some 32,000 tonnes of honey, represents far lower percentages than other livestock production (approximately 0.45% of Final Livestock Production and 0.15 % Of Final Agricultural Production). However, beyond the economic aspect, the production of honey in Spain has great importance from the social and environmental point of view, since it is necessary to emphasize the fundamental role of the bees in the conservation of the environment and in the pollination of the cultures.

Given the climate and landscape diversity of our country the production of honey in Spain is also very varied, as it depends on the types of flowers, plants and trees of our flora. To this diversity must be added a marked irregularity of production, as this depends greatly on the climatology and flowering of plants. By regions, Castilla y León was the one that counted on a year more with a greater number of beekeeping (16.5%), followed by Andalusia (15.9%) and Galicia (12.8%). The business sector is also very atomized, with only 4 companies with invoices above 10 million euros and only 40 companies with more than 20 tons of production annually. Of this total number of farms, 16,139 were shelves and the rest (10,487) were transhumant. The production of a “fixed” hive becomes half of a transhumant, because it depends a lot on the flowering of the zone where it has been established. Hence in recent years this type of hives have increased. The wax production is of the order of 0.8 kilos / hive and the pollen of 0.5 kilos. In Spain, the average number of beehives owned by a professional beekeeper is around 370, while the average for a non-professional beekeeper is around 25. By region, the largest number of beekeepers was in 2014 in Castilla y León, closely followed by Andalusia and Galicia. In this respect, the diversity existing in the different Autonomous Communities. In fact, in Spain there are two different apiculture: the north and northwest (characterized by the high degree of “hobbistas” and small, self-consuming or non-professional beekeepers who, for the most part, do not practice transhumance) and Beekeeping center and south / southeast (with a higher degree of professionalization and mostly transhumant). Regarding Community production, data on honey production in the European Union point to a volume close to 208,000 tonnes in 2014. In the European Union, the number of beekeepers in 2014 exceeds 606,000, but only 4% were professionals. The country that most beekeepers have is Germany, with more than 100,000, followed by France with about 74,000 and Italy with 70,000, according to estimates. For its part, the number of hives in the EU in 2014 amounted to about 14 million, of which approximately 41% were professional hives. By countries. Spain had 18% of the hives and Greece with 11%. Finally, world honey production stood at 1.7 million tonnes in 2014, according to estimates. The countries with the highest production were China (about 25% of the total), the European Union as a whole, the United States and Russia. China, the US, Argentina, Mexico, Canada and Germany account for 50% of the total.

About the author

Montse Gonzalez