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The green ticket. French honey victim of the 2019 heat wave

Beeswax harvested from a hive for the production of honey. Illustrative photo (ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP)
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It is a bad vintage 2019 for French beekeepers. While they presented Tuesday, January 21, the list of honey from France, thenational union of french beekeeping announced a dark year with less than 10,000 tonnes produced, mainly due to the heat wave last summer. In 2018, we were rather at 20,000 tonnes of honey, the balance sheet is therefore half as bad for 2019 while the French consume 45,000 tonnes per year. Some flowers no longer produce nectar due to early dryness. Bees have also suffered from temperatures, particularly in the south of France. In a hive, it is around 37 ° C. The bees regulate the temperature, they ventilate if they need to cool, but when it is close to 50 ° C outside, as in Vérargues in the Hérault, they do not come out any more, and worse: the wax melts and can completely destroy the apiary.

Pesticides are still singled out in some regions. In the Côtes d'Armor at the end of winter, some beekeepers had lost 30% of their apiaries. In other regions, it is diseases like Varoa for examplein Reunion and the Asian hornet has now spread throughout the territory. As for neonicotinoids, these insecticides have been banned for two years, except for those who grow hazelnuts, figs and turnips. They can still use them until next July to deal with certain pests. But these insecticides do not immediately get out of the environment once you stop spreading them. “Sometimes you have to wait five years before you can no longer find them in the hives“explains Henri Clément, spokesperson for Unaf. As for beekeepers in the south of France, heat waves are the main scourge of 2019.

But the effects of the weather are a bit like wine: it reduces the tonnages but not always the quality. The heat, the sun, it can raise the degrees of alcohol in your vintage, for honey it is rather its humidity which increases. But certain regions or flowerings will benefit from climate change: Brittany made buckwheat honey last year, On the other hand, no acacia honey for Marlyse, beekeeper in Seine-et-Marne, which diversifies its production so as to always have some something to offer its customers. We are fortunate to have a diversity of honeys in France. Yesterday, nearly 200 honeys were in competition including rare honeys of larch, lychees or onions: to die for!

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