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Commercial beehives increasingly popular in Europe: Here's which EU country has the most

FILE: Beekeeper Marti Mascaro inspects a honeycomb covered with bees, at his honey farm where he produces organic honey in Pollenca, Mallorca
FILE: Beekeeper Marti Mascaro inspects a honeycomb covered with bees, at his honey farm where he produces organic honey in Pollenca, Mallorca Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Euronews
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The EU is seeing an increase in commercially raised bees, with Romania leading the way.

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The number of commercial beehives on farms is increasing despite the looming threat over certain species of bees, the latest data from Eurostat reveals. 

The new report identifies more than eight million beehives on EU farms in 2020 - an increase of more than a million compared to the previous figures. 

The count only includes beehives on farms, which excludes bees reared on smallholdings or in individual apiaries. And there are some oddities: Germany, for example, does not count beehives as part of a farm, and so has a zero count in the latest available numbers. 

Bees are big business in Europe

It is estimated that pollinators, including honey bees, bumblebees and wild bees, contribute at least €22 billion to the European agriculture industry every year.

More than 80 per cent of the pollination that occurs in crops and wild plants in Europe happens with direct or indirect involvement of bees, according to Eurostat.  

Despite their significance, one in ten bee and butterfly species is currently threatened with extinction and a revision to 2018's EU Pollinators Initiative aims to reverse the "alarming decline".

Which EU country has the most beehives?

At the national level, Romania had 1.5 million beehives on farms, retaining its status as the EU's major honey-production capital. 

Italy and Greece had a further one million beehives on farms in 2020, followed by Spain, Bulgaria, and Portugal. 

Spain and Portugal, in particular, accounted for two of the highest number of beehives on farms in the EU. Spain's Extremadura had more than 300,000 beehives, followed by the Portuguese region of Norte with more than 250,000 beehives on farms. 

The count, however, only paints a partial picture since Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden did not have significant numbers of beehives on farms.

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