Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux, Swiss Federal Research Station for Animal Production and Dairy Products (ALP), Berne

beekeeping in Switzerland: facts and importance

Bees accomplish an important contribution to the national economy by pollinating economic and wild plants and by producing honey, pollen and wax. The pollination value of one bee colony based on the harvest cost of fruit trees and berries accounts to about 1250 Swiss Francs per year, in addition to the value of the bee products. Honey, as the most important bee product has a value of about 250 Francs per year and colony.In 2003 19’000 beekeepers were officially registered, keeping altogether more than 192’000 bee colonies. This corresponds to an average operation unit size of about 10 colonies per beekeeper. The density of the bee population today is on average 4.7 bee colonies per km2, enough to assure the pollination of economic and wild plants. However, the colony distribution is important, as enough bee colonies should be present everywhere in all vegetation areas.On average 17.7 kg honey per colony and year were produced from 2001 to 2003. This value is significantly higher than the long-term average of approximately 10 kg per colony and year. The honey harvest varies strongly from year to year, and also from area to area. There are different reasons for this variation, e.g. climate, vegetation, colony density, type of beekeeping, which cannot be exactly quantified. The average total annual honey production from 1993 to 2002 amounts to 3’200 tons and is also subject to big fluctuations. With an average total consumption of 9’200 tons of honey in Switzerland and a personal annual consumption of 1.3 kg honey per capita, only one third of the Swiss demand can be covered by the Swiss beekeepers.

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