The Journey of Liquid Gold



On the labels of most german honey jars, a distinction is made between three places of production: Germany, EU and non-EU countries. China, with twice the export volume, clearly trails the second-placed country (Statista, 2020).
Germany itself imports around 80,000 tonnes of honey annually, making it the only country in the top ten importing and exporting countries for honey. However, the massive quantities of liquid gold traded around the world continue to raise questions about bee mortality and the general production process. After all, one bee colony produces just about 20 kg of honey per season. Experts as Walter Haefeker, the president of the European Professional Beekeepers Association (2008-2020), question the quality of international honey strongly. European food inspection agencies also suspect a machinery behind the systematic falsification of honey indications of origin.

Technically honey is an intrinsically valued multi-talent - and has been for a long time. In the meantime, counterfeits are circulating and so tarnishing its reputation. The history of beekeeping is almost as old as that of humankind itself and has played an important role in thousands of cultures over many centuries. In addition to its function as one of the most important farm animal, the importance of the honey bee's pollination services has now also come explicitly into focus. No agriculture could exist and function without the immense pollination by honeybees. The ecosystem itself is also dependent on them. What happens when honey bees are missing can already be seen in Sichuan, China. There are no longer enough Apis mellifera and humans have to pollinate fruit trees by hand to get their harvests. On other plantations, there are agreements between farmers and migratory beekeepers on the targeted use of bees at certain seasons.

What makes honey so extraordinary is the specific production by the honey bees. Each bee has certain tasks to perform at certain stages of its life and is assigned to them. Phenomena that were first addressed in the modern economy in the 18th century by national economists such as Adam Smith and now appear as normal and efficient.
According to a current economic understanding, beekeeping could be described as a place that processes the product of bees into a product for humans. In the process, they tend and care for the hive and act almost like an step-parent. An intimate relationship based on trust is created and thus also a mutual dependence. In order not to exploit the animals and to ensure their well-being, they have to protect the bees from pollutants and parasites.
Whether migratory, urban or rural beekeepers, they must give the animals the time they need to produce good honey. So what if the market is flooded with imitations and counterfeits? Does this stakes the existence of hones beekeepers? What impact will this have on our domestic markets? What will be the loss of quality? How will the animals fare?

Thanks for the design: Beatrice Bianchini and Erika G. Sacco
ISBN: 978-3-00-071170-1

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