The feedback I am getting from the beekeepers is worrying me.
But let me give you a bit of background as to why I am so concerned.
When I was in Spain in early April I noticed how very dry it was. Everyone I spoke to in Ainsa, the little town I often visit, commented on the lack of rain.
A lake close to the town was at the lowest I have ever seen in 20 years of visiting the area. That really doesn't bode well for the year ahead as without enough rain there will be less flowers and therefore less nectar for the bees.
Right now I am in traveling around Greece, visiting the beekeepers. It turns out that the situation here is the exact opposite – too much rain.
Two days ago I was with seasoned beekeeper Kostas, who sent us an incredible Oak honey that had an impressive 'total antibacterial activity' of 25+ last year.
He said that the unusually heavy rainfall this year has washed the sap from which the bees create the Oak honey off of the Oak trees. He is hoping that the rain has finished for now (although as I write this I note it rained again last night).
Continuing my travels through the wild Greek mountains, yesterday I caught up with the charismatic Vasilis, whose bees produce a superb organic Vanilla Fir on Mount Erymathos in the Peleponnese. It's a similar situation for him, as the bees here feed off a sweet sticky fluid from The Black Mountain Fir Trees.
At the time of writing, the Vanilla Fir season is delayed and if it continues to rain then there will be no Vanilla Fir this year (just in case, I reserved the final 200 kilos Vasilis has from last year.)
A few weeks ago I asked the main beekeepers for their feedback, here's what they told me.
Asterios (who I am traveling with) told me the following:
‘Actually, we have the worst Spring of the last 10 years. There was a lot of rain this Spring. When it rains like this the bees do not go out. This is bad because after the winter their honey stocks are low and then if they eat the rest they will starve to death. Hopefully, the weather will improve very soon.'
‘It is being a very dry year, that has made all the times come forward compared to other years and we will have to move the hives early as the flowers run out (of nectar) before. We cannot be sure about the rest of the year, we will see.’
Luisa simply said:
‘There is a lot of drought’
This really does not bode well, and it may be that there will be shortages and higher prices come this Autumn. Of course it is difficult to say for sure at this point, but I am hopeful that things can still improve.
Tim - Owner, The Raw Honey Shop.