After we were surprised by a bee swarm in the garden (see earlier post), we searched for information about beekeeping in Portugal.
Our first findings:
- a hive must be at least 100 meters from the public road and from buildings (except the beekeeper’s house)
- the number of the beekeeper must be visible at every hive
- every beekeeper must be registered at the DGVA, the Portuguese animal health authority
- the biggest threats to honeybees are the varroa mite and the Asian hornet in Portugal
- today is the day of the beekeeper! (May 22nd)
The Portuguese beekeeping association
We also found that the nearest beekeeper shop/company would be in Castro Daire. The location was not entirely clear.
Fortunately, they knew where we had to be at the local co-op. Below the football stadium …
And yes indeed, a few organizations have an office on the first floor of the football stadium. Next to Radio Montemuro I see the word apicultura on the door; beekeeping.
Inside, a woman sits behind a desk surrounded by papers, bee stuff, jars of honey, pollen, and a large pile of PET bottles.
We turn out to be in the right place. Mónica is the technical advisor for the beekeepers of this region. She is that on behalf of the beekeeping association of Portugal (FNAP). And she can register us in the DGVA register.
While she registers us, we discuss a lot more about beekeeping in Portugal.
There are 17,000 beekeepers in Portugal, almost all of whom are hobby beekeepers. There are only a few professional beekeepers who generate an income from the sale of honey, pollen and propolis.
Every beekeeper has a registration number. The registration is mandatory. For registration, Mónica asks for our NIF number, a document with the NIF number and our address, an ID and the location of our bees. When we show where we put our bees on google maps, Mónica frowns. Officially it’s too close to the road. She picks another spot in our garden: solved.
We get registered with the IFAP, an institute supporting agriculture and fishing. And then in the registo da atividade apícola. This is also the registration number that we have put in our apiary.
We belong to the Montemuro & Paiva region. This region has been designated by the ministry as a ‘zona controlada’. In these zones, honey bees are systematically checked for bee diseases. Therefore we receive a “boletim de apiário”. This is a kind of bee log that we have to keep. I am reminded of the bee-card that we had to fill in during the bee course in the Netherlands.
If we understood correctly, we receive a call every once in a while to take samples from our bees or to participate in the control programs. It seems to be that the treatments to control varroa are provided. In practice, we will notice how that works exactly. Varroa is being fought here at the end of the summer / fall.
The Asian hornet
Mónica is especially concerned about our bees by our location. The valley in which we live has an abundance of water and tall trees: perfect for the Asian hornet. And that is true, we regularly see hornets. She says that in 2018 the municipality of Cinfaes cleared 500 nests from the Asian hornet. That is dangerous work, which happens overnight. The nests can have a size of 1 meter height and 1 meter wide. And a hornet can stab several times… In the night when all hornets are inside, a cloth is stretched over the nest and then completely burnt out with a flame thrower.
At this time of the year, the queens of the hornets have just started building their nest. That’s why it’s good to kill them with a trap. That turns out to be those PET bottles. We get a recipe for the bait. A cocktail of white wine, beer, grenadine and a shot of liquor. Cheers, that has to do the job!
A hornet trap.
The cocktail is served below. The recipe is adjusted to the season.
The hornet smells the cocktail and flies into the upper left or right opening. Then she climbs down to drink. But then she can’t fly out again, because her wings are to big to get through.
After an hour we are completely ready to keep bees in Portugal.
But our little swarm, kept us waiting. At the first control-check I didn’t see any eggs. Did the virgin queen get fertilized?
Today I dared to look again: Yahoo! Closed brood cells, larvae and eggs. And the queen herself also showed up for a moment.
So now I have to update my “boletim de apiário” soon. In Portuguese…
|a swarm||um enxame|
|work bees||as abelhas operárias|
|brood frames||caixilho de cria|
|cells capped||células coberta|