Beekeeping in Macedonia
A Report on Beekeeping in Macedonia for the Erasmus Let Bee Project
Because of the geographical location and the relief of Macedonia, the climate in the country is partly Mediterranean and Continental, and on the mountains with peaks over 2000 meters the climate is Mountainous. Generally, summers are hot in the valleys locat-ed at lower altitudes (e.g. in Skopje), where the maximum temperatures are usually around 30 °C. The temperature range is high and the moisture is not high, so the nights are cool, but the days can be scorching, with peaks of 40 °C and with minimal amounts of rainfall in the driest regions, with not more than 250 mm, while the most eastern and the most western parts are mountainous and summers are not with very high temperatures and with slightly larger amounts of precipitation. Sunshine is frequent, and the rains are relatively rare, occurring in the form of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Winters are generally mild with cold waves that can bring cold temperatures reaching up to – 20 de-grees Celsius. In mountainous areas snow can reach a height up to over 1 meter.
Lately, in Macedonia, occurred unseasonal meteorological appearances that had negative effects on the life of the bees. These climate changes and their effects are negative on the life of the bees. The severe drought and hot winds in early spring and in summer can cause drying of honey flora, so because of that weak bee families regularly suffer from hunger if there is not any intervention by the beekeepers.
It is also interesting to mention that in the most southern part of the Republic of Macedonia, especial in the lower reaches of the river Vardar winters are quite mild so the queen bees usually don’t stop laying eggs during the winter.
2. Honey Flows
Macedonia’s relief characteristics are the main condition honey flow to occur in May and June (in lower areas) and in June and August in the mountainous regions, where, if there are conditions in August honey flow occurs on woody species that produce honeydew and the honeybees produce black (dark) forest honey called ‘Medlichovets’.
The main honey comes from plants as white clover (Trifolium spp), vetch (Vitsio spp), thyme (Thymus spp), Blackberry (Rubus fructicosus). The most important of the woods species is white acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia). Thermopile herb that gives honey with very high quality is Christ’s thorn (Palirus spinosa). In the mountainous parts there is a type of oak called Kuerkus producing honeydews on its fruits and leaves and from it bees produce black honey that is as well as the light honey highly appreciated among the consumers. In some parts of the country people grow oilseed rape and sunflower, but the honey produced of them is not good valued as the previous.
It is also important to mention that, due to the highly developed biodiversity of honey flora, 98% of the honey in the country is polyfloral. Some recent studies have shown that only 2% of the honey is monofloral and this honey is produced from white acacia (Ribinia pseudoacacia). This honey is very light in color, has a pleasant taste and smell and is easy to be consumed, which makes it highly sought after by buyers.
3. Major Beekeeping Organizations
At national level there are 2 national federations that are members of a larger umbrella organization called the Federation of Farmers of Republic of Macedonia that unites all farmers in the country. Organic beekeepers are each individually involved through the local associations of producers into the Macedonian Organic Producers Federation which represents exclusively the interests of organic producers.
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