The future of beekeeping is in the production of specialty honey, Dimo Dimov, co-founder of the Bulgarian Academy of Beekeeping, said in a BTA interview. According to him, there are about 5,000 registered beekeepers in this country and about 15,000 amateur producers.
Statistics shows that honey consumption in Europe is high but European production is low, hence the talk of increasing imports from outside the EU, Dimov said. “Import from China used to be an issue and everybody talked about it because Bulgarian beekeepers suffered from Chinese imports. Now Ukrainian honey imports go through Bulgaria. At the same time, the purchase prices of local honey are low,” he added.
The international price at which honey is traded is relatively stable, at around EUR 2/kg wholesale but demand is increasing for certain types of honey – specialty honey – and the price for those can fetch as much as EUR 25.
The big challenge is to find niche markets that match quality, specificity and guaranteed habitat. This is the case of honeydew honey in Bulgaria, which for several years has been registered with the protected designation of origin as “Strandzhansky honeydew honey”. It cannot be found cheaper than BGN 20/kg, which is a good price for the local market but pretty cheap by international standards.
By contrast, chestnut honey made in Turkey sells for the equivalent of BGN 50/kg.
More and more beekeepers are experimenting with mixing different types of honey in order to find their niche market, said Dimov. In the Elena area of the Balkan Range, producers mix linden and acacia honey with honey from beech honeydew, to achieve a unique nutty taste.
According to the latest data, the per capita consumption of honey in Bulgaria is about half a kilogram per year, which is more or less the same as elsewhere in Europe, Dimov said.
The Covid pandemic has disturbed the training programme of the Beekeeping Academy in recent years. It recently organized a workshop on bee health in the village of Arbanassi with over 70 lecturers from across the country, Hungary and the Food Safety Agency.
On the agenda of the workshop were the negative impact of climate change and drought on bee colonies, the shrinking number of bee hives due to the increased production costs and available national and European programmes for beekeepers.
(This information is published based on the cooperation agreement between ARMENPRESS and BTA).