EventsEventsPodcasts
Loader

Find Us

ADVERTISEMENT

‘Bees are under a double threat’: Beekeepers in Bosnia are battling climate change and disease

Beekeepers are having to radically rethink traditions and conventional cycles of foraging and honey collection.
Beekeepers are having to radically rethink traditions and conventional cycles of foraging and honey collection. Copyright Bianca Ackermann
Copyright Bianca Ackermann
By Rebecca Ann Hughes with AP
Published on
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

Beekeepers are having to radically rethink traditions and conventional cycles of foraging and honey collection.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bosnia is home to hundreds of thousands of bee colonies, mainly looked after by small-scale beekeepers.

But climate change is threatening the survival of their hives as the insects struggle to find nectar supplies.

Beekeepers are having to radically rethink traditions and conventional cycles of foraging and honey collection.

Some are also calling for greater financial support from the Bosnian government to protect long-standing practices and knowledge.

Bosnia’s beekeepers battle climate change

Bosnia has a rich beekeeping tradition. Its diverse climate and flora are ideal for the production of high-quality honey.

But beekeeping is still mainly thought of as a hobby with most keepers owning less than 100 hives. The practice makes up around 1 per cent of the country's total agricultural production.

Zijad Alic has 50 hives and has been interested in bees for most of his life.

“I fell in love with bees in childhood because my maternal grandmother kept bees in old woven wicker hives,” he says.

“I was impressed with bees and how in the autumn when she would close up her hives, she could take for herself as much honey as she needed.”

Alic sells whatever honey his family does not consume directly to customers.

However, unpredictable seasonal changes are now making it a struggle to even keep his bees alive.

“Climate conditions dictate everything. Everything around us is in bloom right now, as you can see, but there is no flow. Here in my stationary apiary, there is no nectar, just some pollen, but no nectar,” Alic says.

“In contrast, two or three years ago in March, even before the forest turned green, my bees were collecting a wealth of everything. God knows how, my hives were full,” he says.

‘Bees are under a double threat’

Alic is not the only one worrying. Beekeeping organisations in Bosnia believe the situation is precarious.

Munib Huseinagic is the chairman of a beekeeper association based in the central city of Zenica with 1,100 members.

Between them, they maintain 37,000 beehives.

Bees are under a double threat, from pathogens and from climate change; these two things significantly impact the state of our beehives, their number and their yield,” Huseinagic says.

Beekeepers are currently left on their own to self-finance and fight a war against those two threats.”

ADVERTISEMENT

He thinks the authorities in Bosnia, at all levels of government, are failing to support beekeepers. For example, he says, subsidies are needed to grow bee colonies and protect bee health.

“Our beekeeping ways are based on accumulated experience and published beekeeping literature, but things have changed so drastically that all that is almost useless,” Huseinagic says.

“We followed a completely different foraging schedule with set dates. Before the climate started to change, we knew precisely where and when to go and what to do, according to a set schedule.”

A self-described “nomadic beekeeper,” Almir Mrkonjic, is not a climate expert, but for him, climate change is a matter of “lived experience.”

While selling his honey at a roadside stall in Zenica, he says things used to be different.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The climate has changed. I remember from childhood that acacia blossomed early in May, but over the past decade, it blossoms early and then the weather turns rainy and frosty and kills it,” he says.

“Nectar flow is only possible in acacia that has not been damaged by frost.”

According to the official statistics, Bosnia has some 350,000 bee colonies and an annual honey yield of between 2,500 and 3,000 tons, which does not even meet the needs of the country’s local market.

Share this articleComments

You might also like