Scotland Suffering a Lack of Beekeepers
October 31, 2016
Honey, Honey Bees, Honey Industry
According to recent reports, Scotland has a desperate need for more beekeepers due to the production of honey becoming a rare commodity in various areas as of late, experts have said. This year’s crop of honey this past summer has been a “virtual failure” because of the weather, and a jump in prices is expected. Iconic Scottish heather honey is in high demand, and consumers are buying up the supply too fast for beekeepers to keep up, so they are calling for more support and are encouraging beekeepers to go areas where production is slight or nonexistent.
There are less than 30 commercial beekeepers in Scotland, and only about 12 of them are full-time honey sellers. Luckily, this cry for help is just in time for the biggest honey show on the planet, which takes place in Surrey, and is an annual week-long honey celebration. John Mellis, the director of the Bee Farmers’ Association (BFA) in Scotland, says, “There are very few people making a living keeping bees in Scotland.
It is a tiny number of people producing something that is very important to the shops---the heather honey is what the tourists want to buy, and there are only a few of us producing it.” The BFA wants more professional beekeepers in the area to keep up with the demand, and the BFA has many apprenticeship opportunities available to encourage the younger generation to take up beekeeping.
The BFA is calling for grants and loans to help make this happen, as it takes an average of 50,000 pounds to start a bee farm with 200 hives, which equates to over $60,500. If funding was available, then the number of beekeepers in Scotland could increase. The dismal honey production is also an issue of weather; if there’s a shortage of rain, then flowers don’t bloom as much as they should so pollen is scare, and this leads to poor honey production. In Scotland, below average honey yields have been occurring for the last six to seven years.
Bron Wright, the president of the Scottish Beekeeper’s Association, said, “We think Scottish heather honey is absolutely as good as Manuka honey---there is a huge demand, and it goes flying off the shelves when it is there. We value the role bee farmers play and encourage anyone who is interested in the industry to see what support they are eligible for under Scotland’s Rural Development Plan.”
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