In addition to the irregular climate, which does not affect all municipalities in the region equally, there is the proliferation of the velutina wasp, a predator of bees and other insects, an increase in production costs and the negative impact caused by fires on vegetation cover.

“If the State does not take measures to directly support production beekeeping will decline”, warns the executive director of Lousãmel – Agricultural Cooperative of Beekeepers of Lousã and Bordering Counties, Ana Paula Sançana.

Due to attacks by the so-called Asian wasp, which added to the infestation of hives by varroa, a mite that decimates bee colonies, “there are now many burdens”, on the industry.

Tiago Valdeira João, who owns 300 hives in Sertã, district of Castelo Branco, reiterates the same problems.

“Beekeeping is one of the most unstable businesses there is. Many factors can influence the bee and the climate itself is not certain”, he told Lusa.

Tiago João, 28, started a project in 2018, financed by the Rural Development Program (PDR), which should end in 2023, but which was extended until 2024, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the demarcated region of honey with a protected designation of origin (PDO) Serra da Lousã, managed by Lousãmel, in the district of Coimbra, the patches of heather, whose flower determines the characteristics of this natural product, have decreased due to fires and the spread of invasive species.

“The quality of DOP honey is not in question. The problem is the quantity”, assures Ana Paula Sançana, who added that “there are beekeepers who are unmotivated with the increase in fixed charges and who end up leaving the certification process”.

The president of Lousãmel, António Carvalho, confirms the current panorama of PDO Serra da Lousã honey.

“Since the 2017 fires, it has been a disgrace, with very small quantities for the demand we have. This year was even worse than 2020”, he laments.

For António Carvalho, this trend “also has to do with climate change and the large concentration of beehives” in Serra da Lousã.

The leader, however, puts "hope in some young beekeepers who have appeared with more enthusiasm."

“We have not had favourable years. Before, the climate was much more regular”, said Luís Estêvão, president of Pampimel - Cooperative of Beekeepers and Producers of Medronho of Pampilhosa da Serra.

The heather areas “have been decreasing” in this mountainous inland county, where family apiaries predominate.

“The big producers will adapt. The small ones will end up paying to produce honey, they don't do the maths, while the medium ones will have a hard time surviving”, predicts Luís Estêvão.