Beekeeping no longer looks like solid business in 2014, given the shortage in harvest, due to the bad weather this summer. According to Ioan Fetea, the president of the Romanian Beekeepers Association (ACA), the honey harvest dropped by half, due to the draught in the West and excessive rains in the South. In some parts of the country, like Oltenia, the harvest even dropped by 70% in 2013, and the price of honey already went up by 20%. At the same time, the request for honey is not much altered compared to last year. “The honey consumption in Romania is very low, 400-500 grams/inhabitant/year, while Northern countries have up to 4,5 kg of honey a year“, says Ioan Fetea. 10-15% of the honey consumed in Romania comes from overseas.

As far as the authorities’ aid to beekeepers, until October 15 2014, 30 million lei will go to honey producers elligible for the National Beekeeping Programme (PNA) 2014-2016. But beekeepers claim that these amounts are certainly not sufficient to cover their investments.

According to Ioan Ardelean, president, “Apisigmar“ Sighet Association, only 35-40% of the investments are reimbursed. “It is not easy to access the PNA because the Agency for Payments and Interventions in Agriculture complicates things further by adding all sorts of criteria which most of the times prove to be pointless“, says Ardelean, whose expenses for raising the 50 bee families he owns will be funded for. Currently, the most affected are the small producers who own up to 50 families, because in their case the amounts reimbursed by the PNA are insignificant.

Alexandru Ilinca, president, APIS Oltenia Association, is another beekeeper who applied for the PNA. He owns 200 families and has recently bought 50 more, at a total cost of 20,000 lei.

He claims beekeeping is not for everyone. “In order to have results, you have to really know this field and you have to be patient”, says Ilinca. He got 25,000 lei for his harvest this year. Some beekeepers chose not to apply for financial support from the PNA, because they have to put a lot of time into paperdrafting. “I did not file a paper this year for two reasons: first, I did not have time for the paperwork, and second, the amounts reimbursed are ridiculous“, says Adrian Vintila, president, the Pro Apiculture Association.  

The De Minimis aid: 4 million lei

The Agriculture minister, Daniel Constantin, states that beekeepers shall receive 4 million lei through a De Minimis aid to compensate for some of the losses this year. 4 lei per bee family shall be granted to beekeepers who own up to 75 families and 7.5 lei to those who own more than 75 families. The honey producers claim that although the amount is insufficient, it is, nevertheless, welcome.

After the Agency for Payments and Interventions in Agriculture made a report of all requests for payment registered by applicants until the deadline (August 1st 2014), the amount requested totalled 32.5 million euros, and the programme is only financed with 29.7 million lei.

For 2014, more than 12.97 million lei go into buying queens, swarms or bee families, and another 11.56 million will reimburse the purchase of hives.

Also, over 5 million lei went into buying medicine, and 527 lei for honey analysis.

Apiculture in figures

Romania produces 20,000 honey tonnes yearly, ranking 4th in Europe. Last year, 18,000 tonnes were produced. Currently, Romania owns over 1.47 million bee families and has around 40,000 beekeepers.  More than 60% of them are members of the Romanian Beekeepers Association, with 900,000 bee families. The organic honey production was of 3,200 tonnes, and the number of certified bee families was of 110,000.