Hungary is one of the union’s largest honey producers


In reaction to a query from Greenpeace Hungary, the Ministry of Rural Development has issuing a statement reinforcing the fact that apiculture is indeed an extremely important economic activity in Hungary, not least because of the significance of honey production within the agricultural economy.

Honey production also occurs on agricultural areas where, over the past ten years, over one million hectares have been planted with seeds (maize, sunflower, rape) that have been treated with neonicotnoid pesticides.

Despite this, no mass deaths of bees has occurred in Hungary as a result of the use of neonicotnioid pesticides, and this is supported by tests conducted by the Hungarian National Apiculture Association. Hungary has the largest relative density of bees within the European Union. 1 million bee families were registered in 2010 and 1.2 million in 2012; the density of the bee population is above 11 families/km2.

Hungarian apiculture is responsible for 1% of the gross production value of agriculture, and 3% of that of animal husbandry. Bee-keeping currently provides some 18-20 thousand families with a supplementary or sole income, in addition to which it indirectly contributes to the population retention capabilities of rural areas, supplying the population of Hungary and other European Union member states with excellent quality apiculture products.

It is also important to stress that if we withdraw neonicotinoid-based pesticides, there is no replacement product, and maize, sunflower and rape production could find itself without suitable protection. The apiculture and crop production sectors are built on each other. A reduction in the production area of the aforementioned crops could lead to an increase in the area occupied by wind-pollinated cereals, leading to a decrease in the size of bee pastures and in the diversity of cultivated crops, which would in turn cause the upsetting of the natural balance.

When developing our standpoint with regard to neonicotinoid pesticides, we wish to continue the current, wide-reaching public debate with the involvement of both professional and non-governmental organisations.

At the last Council meeting, a British proposal lead to the possibility that the Commission would only come to a decision on the possible banning of nicotinoid pesticides following further scientific research and tests in arable crop areas. In addition to Hungary, a further 10 member states supported the British opinion and asked the Commission to review its proposal and perform further impact studies. The European Union’s Appeals Committee may discuss the issue in the near future.