A Young Beekeeper from Sicily: about the bee life, different types of honey and pesticides

03 Jun 2020

Claudia Cavaliere is a young beekeeper from Sicily, Italy. Her family has a small farm, where they grow vegetables and keep some animals, while Claudia focuses on beekeeping. She is part of the Sicilian Black bee presidia. Claudia recently joined the SFYN Instagram live and shared her experience of beekeeping. 

You can watch the full Instagram live here


Claudia Cavaliere

Here are the most important questions about bees that Claudia has answered. 

About Synthetic Pesticides and A Decision not to Use them

The most important thing, for my family and me, is the clean cycle of nature. For this reason, we don’t use chemical products or pesticides, and that is for the bees too because they are affected the most. 

It takes more work to not use pesticides because they are the easiest and the fastest way to avoid any insects harmful to the plants. And of course, we want to get the results in a fast and easy way, but it is just not the right way to do so. Since we stopped using any synthetic pesticides, we have noticed that we grow fewer vegetables and fruits. But when you eat a fruit or a vegetable, you can taste a difference, and you know that this product is clean and good for nature. As an alternative method, we use some insects to avoid the external attacks,  it is a very slow method, but we have to try it. We have to help the planet, otherwise, we are heading to collapse. 


Who Lives in the BeeHive

A beehive is like a small city run by the queen bee, the only bee who is responsible for laying eggs. A bee becomes a queen bee thanks to the efforts of the existing worker bees in the hive. A young larva is fed special food called “royal jelly” by the worker bees. Royal jelly is richer than the food given to worker larvae and is necessary for the larva to develop into a fertile queen bee. A queen bee lives around 5 years. 

The other inhabitants are female worker bees and male drone bees. In springtime, there could be around 20 thousand worker bees inside and hundreds of drone bees. Both types of these bees live around 40 days.  

A worker bee plays an extremely important role in a hive. In its lifetime, a worker bee cleans all the hive. and protects other bees from other hives or waps. In around the 20th day of its life, a worker bee becomes a forager to collect nectar from the flowers. 

They produce honey for their own food, it is a common misconception that they produce honey only for humans. 


About Different Types of Honey

Different types of honey depend on different types of pollen. A lot of people think that only the liquid honey that we see in grocery stores is a good one. However, it is not true. Some honeys are more creamy than others, some in colder weather become solid but it is actually a good sign of the good quality of honey. Some honeys never become solid, for instance, chestnut or eucalyptus honey. These honeys are much darker than we are used to seeing in grocery stores – but they are good honeys. They are full of minerals. 

In general, it is very expensive to produce honey for beekeepers. It is very hard work, especially given the climate change. Our work depends a lot on nature, and if nature does not cooperate with us, and acts abnormally, we lose our production and our businesses suffer. And we suffer for our bees because if the weather is not right, they cannot leave the hives and forge the nectar. 

That’s why honeys from sustainable beekeepers are slightly more expensive compared to “honeys” produced by the industry. The truth is, that they are not true honey: they have sugar and water mixed with honey, thus, the difference is huge.

Currently, Slow Food advocates for the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers”, which aims to phase out synthetic pesticides in Europe by 2035, to restore biodiversity and help farmers in transition, and so to save bees from extinction in Europe.

You can support the initiative by signing it here.


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