Humans have been aware of the diverse range of apiculture products, such as honey, wax, pollen, mead, propolis, royal jelly, bee venom and more recently even honey vinegar, for centuries. However, the economic benefit of bees is actually 10–15 times higher than the value of their honey products.
Bees are indispensable pollinators for fruit and many varieties of vegetables. 80% of harvests can be attributed to bee pollination – even self-pollinating plants produce 20% higher yields with the help of bees.
Beehives are made from natural materials such as wood and straw, and can only be cleaned and disinfected using physical means, such as hot water or flames. Using chemical products is prohibited. To eliminate impurities, the central walls have to be made from organic wax. Antibiotics and other chemotherapeutic medicines used to treat disease are also banned. For example, the varroa mite – the most common bee parasite – is controlled with organic acids. The most widely used acid is formic acid, which occurs naturally in food. Many organic beekeepers are also currently running trials with microorganisms, lactobacillus and yeasts to see if they can improve the resilience of their bee populations. So far the results have been promising.
Bee pastures must consist primarily of organically grown crops, wild flora or extensively farmed crops within a three-kilometre radius.