The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) reports an encouraging year
The annual honey survey from the British Beekeepers’ Association shows that honeybees survived the difficult conditions this year and produced a crop a third bigger than last year’s.
The honey crop was, on average, just under 14kg (just over 30lb) per hive, across England and Wales. Welsh beekeepers reported an exceptionally improved crop, with over double the amount of honey compared to last year. This is despite the fact that it was a difficult year in climactic terms, with the very cold snap in the spring and then a long drought in many areas, which meant that plants with shallow roots stopped producing nectar.
Although a crop of 30lb per hive is small compared to yields a few decades ago, beekeepers are noting some new and encouraging farming practices, which could be good for honeybees and pollinators of all kinds.
Professor John Hobrough, who was awarded his BBKA certificate for 60 years of beekeeping in 2016, said, “A local farmer planted Phacelia or purple tansy near my apiary, and the results astounded me. Phacelia is one of the top 10 nectar producers for honeybees. Once it flowered, my honeybees had a fantastic time, with my three strong colonies making over 230lb of honey within the month.”
Sympathetic agricultural and gardening practices and planting are crucial for the future of honeybees, pollinating insects of all kinds, and the birds which feed on them, and the BBKA is encouraging gardeners to help by planting more bee-friendly species.