Organic beekeeping

A beekeeper’s job is to look after his bees, to guide and protect his colonies.

In EC regulations 834 and 889, Europe has defined the criteria that need to be fulfilled to obtain European organic certification. This certification is monitored at every stage by local inspection bodies.

Organic beekeeping involves caring for the wellbeing of the bees and respecting what they produce. As in other sectors, organic production is a comprehensive system of agricultural management and food production.

Beekeepers who choose to work organically must respect a set of specifications that include, among other things:

  •     positioning the hives within a radius of 3km mainly planted with organic crops or wild plants.
  •     using hives made of natural materials.
  •     only using organic products to protect the hives (wax, propolis, plant oils etc.).
  •     only taking honey from frames that do not contain any brood.
  •     leaving sufficient reserves of honey and pollen for the winter.
  •     only using organic wax.

They are allowed to practice artificial insemination and use veterinary medicines to treat their bees. They can feed the colonies in winter if they don’t have any reserves, but must give them organic products. They cannot trim the queen bee’s wings (a technique used by some beekeepers to prevent swarming).

Beekeepers must respect these specifications for one year before they can use the word ‘organic’ on the labels for their products.