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French beekeepers not hopeful for harvest

French beekeepers expect their worst harvest in decades as unseasonably cold and wet weather due to climate change has prevented bees from producing honey.

Beekeepers association UNAF said that based on information received from regional associations it expects the honey harvest for 2021 to come in at 7000 to 9000 tonnes, or about a third of the 2020 harvest.

“This will be worst harvest in the history of our organisation, the worst in at least 50 years,” UNAF president Christian Pons told Reuters on Tuesday.

Pons said beekeepers across Europe have been hit by bad weather and climate change will have a lasting impact on honey production.

UNAF said 2021 will be a disastrous year for honey as, with the exception of a few rare areas in France, conditions have been very difficult for bees in spring and summer, with long periods of frost, cold, rain and northerly winds.

“Climate change, which beekeepers have felt for more than 15 years, is really hitting us,” UNAF said, adding that flowering seasons are becoming earlier and shorter. In many places, the honey season is now over after July, while before it lasted for several weeks in the summer.

Due to late frost and rains, there will be virtually no acacia honey this year, for the second year in a row, while rosemary, thyme and heather honey production, as well as chestnut and sunflower honey harvests, have been poor to virtually zero.

Forest, mountain and pine honey harvests have also been disappointing as the flowering season was too short and only lavender honey in the Mediterranean southeast of the country produced a good harvest, UNAF said.

The organisation estimates that France consumes about 40,000 tonnes of honey per year and imports more than 30,000 tonnes, while export volumes this year will be very low.

“Little by little, climate change is hurting our business. At this rate, there will be less and less French honey,” he said.

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