The project, called BeeLand, is funded by the Recovery and Resilience Program (PRR) and involves sixteen partners including companies and organisations in the beekeeping sector.

The purpose is to study the sector and the changes brought about by factors such as climate change, fires, or drought, and seek solutions for the new realities they entail, namely in terms of Portuguese honey with the Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP).

Portugal has nine DOP regions where the honey produced obeys a series of rules defined 30 years ago and that do not suit the current times with changes, namely in terms of vegetation, which alters the color and flavor, as explained by those responsible for the project.

Many beekeepers fail to meet the requirements and certified honey has been losing ground, with a drop from around 450,000 kilograms in 2010 to 15,000 kilograms in 2020, although total national honey production has increased by 2019.

Cristofe Espírito Santo provided the data, from the National Center for Apiculture and Biodiversity Skills, one of the entities involved in the BeeLand project.

Not the bees fault

"It's not the beekeeper's fault, nor the bees", he emphasised, explaining that one of the project's priorities is to update the DOP honey specifications, so that they can respond to current conditions.

In addition, “DOPs indicate the traditional nature of the product, but the technology has evolved. Today honey is made with quality that comes with 30 years of experience”, according to the president of the National Beekeepers Federation of Portugal, Manuel Gonçalves.

“We are realising that we are going to have to value our DOP honey from organic production in order to be able to remain in the market. Our market is that of quality product stores and neighborhood stores, it is not for large distribution,” he said.

The federation, also a partner in the project, points out that, “at this moment, with the great transformation that is taking place in agriculture, with the planting of species that need pollination, climate conditions, the search for pollination by bees, it is necessary to start organising the territory.” To this end, he argues that it is necessary to create in Portugal “a pollination pool to be available at any time, to organise the sector” so that, in crisis situations such as the current one, there are no breaks in the sector.