Greek bees holding their own...for the moment


Every day Nikos Reppas tends his beehives on the hills of the Peloponnese in southern Greece.

Since ancient times, honey has played a crucial role in Greek society and Nikos, whose family has been in the honey business for more than two centuries, says Greek expertise is recognised the world over.

SOUNDBITE 1 - Nikos Reppas, Beekeeper (Greek, 15 secs)

"There is tremendous interest for Greek honey abroad. All the countries seek Greek honey because it is renowned. There are also products, such as royal jelly, that can't be found anywhere else because no other country has the relevant conditions or flowers."

Nikos is lucky.

In other areas of the world, honey bee populations are plummeting. Scientific reports point to the use of certain pesticides or genetically-modified organisms. That's no problem in Greece where GMOs are banned.

SOUNDBITE 2 - Paschalis Harizanis, Professor of Apiculture at Agricultural University of Athens (English, 19 secs)

"Colony Collapse Disorder is a problem in the United States and some European countries like Germany and Spain. We don't have this problem in Greece yet. This may be because of the GMO's growing in other countries and we don't."

But Greek farmers do use certain pesticides that have been identified as potentially harmful to bees.

The European Commission is trying to introduce a two-year ban on these chemicals but Greece was among the nine countries that voted against the motion in March.

The EU will put it to another vote on Monday and environmental groups say it's urgent to act.

SOUNDBITE 3 - Elena Danali, Greenpeace Greece GMO's Campaigner (Greek, 25 secs):

"Not banning the pesticides does not help agriculture. It does not help biodiversity, it does not help humans and insects. No one benefits from bees dying. On the contrary, everyone has an interest and benefit from bees being healthy to pollinate so that food is produced and balance is maintained in the ecosystem."

If bees take the same downward spiral here as elsewhere in Europe, it would be devastating for the industry. Producing 12000 tonnes a year Greece is the second biggest producer of honey in Europe after Spain.

It's an industry that's part of Greek identity.

SOUNDBITE 4 - Nikos Reppas, Beekeeper (Greek, 11 secs)

"My father is is 77 years old going on 78 and still works professionally. A beekeeper is for life. You are born and die as a beekeeper."

Many of the 20,000 registered beekeepers seem to have kept disease at bay for the moment, hoping that there is still a long life ahead for their very ancient tradition.






- Nikos arriving at his beehives (2 shots)

- Bee on flower


- Nikos working on beehives (4 shots)


- Harizanis putting on a beekeepers suit

- Various of Harizanis and his team at Agricultural University of Athens


- Shop selling honey in the town of Nafplion (4 shots)

- Jar being filled up with honey


- Beehives and Nikos (2 shots)