The year 2020 has not been a good year for beekeepers in the Czech Republic. They have more beekeepers per capita than any other European Union country, with 58 beekeepers per 10,000. In second place is Slovenia with 55 per 10,000 and Estonia comes in third place with 39.

It is the worst season in 50 years, and the price of honey is rising due to increased demand, higher expectations of keeping bee farms healthy as well as dwindling production, according to Seznam Zpravy. Honey prices may rise slightly as a result of the fact that Czech beekeepers are suffering the worst season in 50 years.

The months of May and June were colder than usual, and this also took a toll on beekeepers and bees.  Bees do not like cold weather. Demand for honey is rising, but beekeepers can't keep up with it. Every Czech person eats about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of honey per year.  

This unrelated 1:39-minute video by Chivas Regal shows a Save The Bees Slovakia Finalist in 2019:

According to the Czech Association of Beekeepers, domestic bees produced 4,800 tons of honey this year. This number doesn't correspond to the average bee production for individual beekeepers across the country. Czech Republic beekeepers around the country report fewer honey yields every year.

President of the Czech Association of Beekeepers, Jarmila Machová, says that Slovakia is also doing badly as well as other neighboring countries.

According to beekeeper Jiří Mlateček, this year’s production is lower than normal. It is only about one-third of the production two years ago. He tends to 40 hives but used to have 60 hives in better times.

When it is cold and rainy, like it was in May and June, the bees cannot fly to collect nectar and pollen. Foraging comes to a standstill and there is almost no honeydew honey.

Other changes in the Czech Republic have also played a role in this trend and may change results long term if changes are not made. Heavy agriculture has reduced biodiversity, especially natural habitats for bees like meadows and wildflowers. Farmers are also using pesticides that kill insects, specifically bees.

The Czech Republic also imports honey for local consumers from Ukraine, and exports its own honey to several countries, including Slovakia, France and Germany. There is a lot of fake and diluted honey on the global market nowadays, so expensive inspections on imported honey are also adding to the local price of honey. 

Drought for many years in the country has significantly reduced the amount of nectar in flowers, so bees do not have sufficient food to saturate. Then this year there was a downpour, which was good for the plants following the drought, but the timing was disastrous for bees because it happened right at the time of pollen collecting. As a result, they had to be fed sugar water by their beekeepers so they wouldn’t die.

Any of these conditions alone is a challenge for bees, but when you take all these factors together, they weaken bee colonies, and can leave them highly susceptible to diseases like bee plague or varoase.

Czech people love their bees, so hopefully this trend will be adjusted and beekeeping will be back on track in 2021.