Albania is known as a country with highly favorable conditions for the beekeeping industry to flourish. Albanian honey is high quality due to the rich flora and gentle climate.

In Albania, beekeeping has not been regulated by law and a beekeeper can keep as many hives as he or she wishes with no rules to follow. Now the Albanian government is proposing a final draft of a new law that will change how beekeeping is governed, even if you only have one hive. These sweeping changes are said to be aimed at promoting growth in this sector.

The Ministry of Agriculture describes this legislation as an attempt to increase protection of bees since they are threatened globally. Therefore, the draft act would recognize beekeeping as a vital activity that is of national interest as it guarantees national pollination and biodiversity of the various bee species.

The draft act notes that bees are useful for agriculture and help to preserve the ecosystem and natural environment. It makes special reference to the protection of Apis mellifera carnica and other indigenous bee populations. Under the potential new rules, beekeeping should use certain European bees, including Apis mellifera and these local subspecies, as well as these others: Apis mellifera carnica, Apis mellifera ligustica, Apis mellifera sicula, and Apis mellifera cecropia.

This unrelated 1:54-minute video by WION gives a brief look at Albania's 'golden honey harvest' in 2020:



For people that are used to the freedom to keep bees as they wish, in a backyard kind of way, this represents a lot of structured bureaucracy and incoming compliance. It will apply to anybody—individual or company—even if the entire apiary consists of just one beehive.

There will be rules for registration, production, transportation, reproduction, labeling, processing, and storing of bee-derived products like honey, propolis and other items. The beekeeper must register with the authorities by April 30 annually. Beekeepers will be told where hives can and cannot be located. For instance, 10 meters from the road and 5 meters from private and public property lines.

A beehive can be mobile or static, but if a beekeeper chooses to move hives, the authorities must be notified 6 days prior to the moving date. A veterinary certificate must be submitted showing that the bees are healthy and that ‘necessary medical measures’ were taken before the move. Then the authorities decide whether the bees can move or not.

Other provisions in the draft law are that beekeepers must be educated in basic beekeeping knowledge and take all measures laid down in the law to protect bees and consumers. It also addresses such things as what happens to beekeepers that do not comply or do not declare their activities, as well as other law-breaking situations. Beekeepers are also instructed on storing and labeling honey products.

The government will protect and promote the development of Albanian products, create research programs, incentivize the youth to see beekeeping as a profession, and support rural beekeepers.

Some regulations are good for bees and even for beekeepers, especially for building an export market for Albanian bee products. But it also imposes new compliance obligations and expenses that small beekeepers may struggle to meet. So there will be a two-year grace period before full enforcement.

In 2020, during the global pandemic lockdown, Albania enjoyed its best honey harvesting year on record. The Morava area produces tens of tons of honey annually, with rich varieties like chestnut, wild thyme, rapeseed, and white clover. Morava beekeepers hadn’t seen such a season in 50 years.

We previously blogged about the honey bounty that many countries enjoyed in 2020, and you can read our blog post here

The law has been drafted to align with European Union law and is expected to pass soon. More laws will follow.