Sticky situation: Spanish beekeepers bathe themselves in honey to demand help for ‘dying’ sector

Spanish beekeepers are demanding government support for their troubled industry.
Spanish beekeepers are demanding government support for their troubled industry. Copyright EFE via Reuters
By Angela Symons
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Spanish beekeepers staged an eye-catching protest in Valencia to plead for financial aid.

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Spanish beekeepers are taking to the streets this week to demand urgent help for their “dying” sector.

Led by farmers union COAG, honey sector workers are demanding aid to help with the unaffordable rise in production costs.

They are also protesting against the import of low-quality honey from countries such as China, which they say is flooding the market and causing a price crisis. In 2022, a record amount of honey was imported to Spain.

Protests have already taken place in Murcia, Seville, Santander and Valencia, and will continue in Oviedo today, Leon on Monday, and in Tarragona and Zaragoza on 10 February.

Protestors in Valencia say beekeeping is ‘in danger of extinction’

On Thursday, more than 300 beekeepers held a rally in front of the Valencian Courts, holding signs that read ‘SOS: Beekeeping in danger of extinction’.

Protestors standing in buckets drenched themselves in honey to draw attention to their cause.

COAG claims Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture has failed to take action on the problems of a sector of “great economic, social and environmental importance in our territory”.

Why are beekeepers protesting in Spain?

In 2022, drought, high temperatures and the parasitic Varroa mite reduced Spain’s honey harvest by half, according to COAG.

Like other industries, beekeeping also suffered surging costs due to the war in Ukraine.

While other sectors have benefited from aid to alleviate the impacts of the war, the beekeeping industry has been overlooked, according to COAG.

The amount of aid currently allocated for beekeeping does not cover even a kilo of food per hive, they say. A colony requires about 18 kg of honey or sugar syrup to survive the winter, according to the UK’s Conwy Beekeepers.

They are demanding emergency aid for the beekeeping sector to help with increased fuel and production costs.

Cheap honey imports doubled down on the industry’s financial struggles.

To address this, protestors are demanding increased quantity and quality controls on honey imports, and more transparent labelling on the origin of honey sold in Spain.

Video editor • Joanna Adhem

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