Beekeepers in Switzerland have reported historically poor honey harvests in 2019. The major cause was the markedly cold and wet month of May, it was reported on Tuesday.
The average harvest in 2019 was 13 kg per colony, more than ten kg less per colony than in 2017 and 2018, said apisuisseexternal link, the umbrella organization for beekeepers in Switzerland.
The major cause was bad weather: March and April were warm and dry, enabling bee colonies to develop rapidly, but May – the most important month for making honey – was the coldest and wettest in 30 years, at least in regions north of the Alps.
Apisuisse said this meant that colonies, faced with fewer flowering plants to produce new honey, had to eat much of what was previously produced in order to survive and keep the hive warm.
A decent summer harvest, which includes forest honey, and a rather average harvest at areas over 1,000 metres of altitude, were not enough to save an overall bad situation, beekeepers reported.
The southern Swiss region of Ticino enjoyed the highest average harvest (25 kg per colony), closely followed by Graubünden (22 kg). Western Switzerland produced more than eastern, and the laggard areas were Appenzell, in the northeast, and the neighbouring country, Liechtenstein.
The figures follow a wider European and even global trend of lower honey harvests, which have caused beekeepers to incur losses of tens of millions of francs.