Our organic honey oak comes from Antonis, in Greece. Antonis is an experienced second generation beekeeper where he deals with organic beekeeping.
His company and his honey products with the name Axion – Esti start from Panorama, in Argos, where a visitable artisan beekeeping and packing facility has been built. As he explains to us, beekeeping is a very important craft for nature, as pollination through bees becomes an important element of nature. It is important to know how craft was discovered about 10,000 years ago and how it has been evolving to this day. More about the process of organic honey production is explained below.
1. What is the difference between organic and conventional beekeeping?
‘There are some rules in organic beekeeping. Initially the beehives (and bees) should be away from conventional crops and located in forest areas or areas with their native vegetation (without human intervention).
Also the work done by the beekeeper is more demanding and time consuming as no pesticides are used to fight diseases such as varroa but only very few organic natural treatments. This greatly increases the cost of organic honey.
Also, there is no pesticide treatment of bare honeycombs during the storage to kill the moths, with one purpose to avoid the pesticide residues. Instead, placing the combs in the freezers is used to avoid use of pesticides’.
2. You have been certified as organic beekeeper, what are the conditions that must be met to obtain it? Is there a demand from consumers for certified organic honey?
‘Organic certified beekeeping means that during the year there are inspections for analysis of honey and all beekeeping products produced.
We keep records of beehive treatments and packaging and we keep records of the exact quantities of honey produced in order to have transparency of the organic food supply chain and differentiate the organic from the conventional honey.
It is definitely a process that raises the cost of the beekeeping but it is worth it because people are looking for certified organic products and are willing to pay more. Especially consumers from abroad who want to know the methods of honey production ‘.
3. How do you evaluate this year’s production?
‘This year is a strange year, a massive forest destruction was caused by the fires in Evia island, where it is a place of great beekeeping importance. However, nature responds back quickly in a unique organised manner, and I believe that the flora of these forest will grow back in a short time. The areas covered with pine trees are certainly difficult to be nature regenerated with the same exact species but alternatively other native trees in the area can thrive, such as heather and arbutus, which grow in a much shorter time.
In the burned areas all the beekeepers who had beehives were severely affected. However, I estimate that the percentage of the damage is small because the fires were exploded at a time when there was no honey production and not many beekeepers had moved their beehives there.
Certainly these arson fires are considered a main cause for reduction of the bee population. However there are other causes such as radiation and the use of pesticides in conventional cultivation.
In cases where the bee population has decreased, it is good to follow nomadic beekeeping, ie to transport the beehives to areas where there is ‘food’ (Organic ekiosk explanation: flowers in blossom, nectar and trees such as pine, spruce, oak and chestnut) so that bees can be revived and strengthened. During the nomadic beekeeping, I transfer the bees to different areas and the honey harvest period starts in May and concludes in November. On the other hand, in static beekeeping the bees are placed separately in some areas and are not moved so in this way only 1-2 harvests are carried out. The queen will also have to be replaced after the end of three years ‘.
4. How is this honey trading this year?
‘The whole situation with the coronavirus has affected the demand for honey. Now honey is considered a kind of luxury and consumers can not afford to buy it. Nevertheless, I believe that as long as beekeepers persist on chasing opportunities, they can overcome any problem. It’s a profession that can make a profit. ‘
Antonis harvests Organic Honey – Oak which appears to have stronger antimicrobial property than manuka honey according to the research carried out by Beekeeping Institute of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, in Greece.
This excerpt is part of beekeeper Antonis’s interview on www.agrotypos.gr
Photos: Ownership of Organic ekiosk