In 2016, for the first time in history, in the USA several species of bees have been declared endangered species. However, the threat for these insects, indispensable for the environment, is on a global scale. Bees aren’t merely honey producers, they are also responsible for the pollination of edible plants, which constitute the 70% of our diet. According to UNAAPI, the association of Italian beekeepers, 2017 has been an ill-fated year, with honey production dropping to an alarming -70%.
Beside the traditional enemies of these species – the massive use of pesticides in agriculture and specific parasites as the Varroa Destructor - the drought that affected the country caused a dramatic drop in nectar and pollen production - accelerating the ongoing process of desertification - and, consequentially, a shortage of local honey.
To avoid the risk of honey of doubtful quality – proceeding from China and India – flooding the Italian market, UNAAPI urges the EU to implement a system of labeling indicating the designation of origin, as it has been done for milk.
However, several beekeepers have been forward-looking. The Apidolomiti Cooperative was founded 40 years ago and is now gathering 300 producers scattered along the Dolomites Mountains surrounding the city of Belluno. In 2011 they obtain the D.O.P. (designation of protected origins) status for their valued qualities made from high mountain plants such Rhododendron.
Traditionally apiculture has been a passion and an additional source of income for the inhabitants of these steep valleys. Lately a bunch of young entrepreneurs invested in bees as a professional activity, attracted by the increasing value of the product. They bring hope to the preservation of mountain’s biodiversity and to the immune system of the environment: bees, the planet keepers.