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FEATURE STORYDecember 5, 2023

Montenegro’s Atlas of Honey Plants: Building a Stronger and More Sustainable Beekeeping Sector

Young child stands next to a table with a checkered cover, with honey and bread on top.

Photo: Montenegro’s National Association of Beekeepers Organizations (SPOCG); Bosko Ivovic.

Honey is not only tasty, but it also represents a source of additional income for many households in Montenegro. With honeybee populations in Europe and around the world under threat of extinction, Montenegro has recognized that more needs to be done to develop a more sustainable and resilient beekeeping sector—especially given the impact bees have through pollination on the country’s agriculture and local ecosystems.

With the support of the Second Institutional Development and Agriculture Strengthening Project (MIDAS2), Montenegro’s National Association of Beekeepers Organizations (SPOCG) has developed a critical tool for optimizing beekeeping pasturage resources and boosting the country’s honey production - the Atlas of Honey Plants cataloguing flowering plants across Montenegro.

The result of over two years of research and documentation, the Atlas includes a detailed inventory of 130 melliferous species, their descriptions, photographs, and flowering characteristics. Apart from contributing to the sustainability of the sector, this resource enables the beekeepers and policy makers to protect the authenticity and geographical origin of Montenegrin honey.  Montenegro boasts one of the most floristically diverse Balkan and European areas, with around 3,600 species and subspecies of vascular plants. Based on the research carried out so far, there are about 550 species the bees of Montenegro like to visit.

Until now, we did not have comprehensive information about the size and potential of the resources, which made beekeeping production in economic and sustainable terms insecure in Montenegro. The Atlas enables us to plan and invest in the sector in a smart manner, as well as to protect and invest in increasing the honey-bearing species volume, and in this way make the sector more sustainable. The information contained in the Atlas is the basis for planning the protection of honey-bearing plant species, monitoring the impact of climate change, and identifying risks that could threaten these species in their natural environment.
Fatimetou Mint Mohamed
Marijan Plantak
Member of SPOCG and beekeeper
Marjan Plantak at the presentation of the Atlas of Honey Plants, Danilovgrad, Montenegro, July 2023.

Marijan Plantak at the presentation of the Atlas of Honey Plants, Danilovgrad, Montenegro, July 2023.

In addition to the Atlas, the Bank supported the SPOCG and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management with the development of an apiary cadaster—an official register showing the location and distribution of all hives of domesticated honeybees in the country. This not only supports effective beekeeping practices and will help facilitate the development of beekeeping in accordance with organic farming standards, but also serves as a foundation for annual updates on the number of bee colonies in Montenegro—essential for budgeting and allocation of funds under future EU Common Market Organization measures.

This cadaster and the overall Atlas are producing big impact for Montenegrin beekeepers and the country’s economy, part of a wider effort through MIDAS2 to improve the competitiveness of agriculture and fisheries in Montenegro through enhanced delivery of government support in alignment with EU accession requirements. This project is a continuation of earlier support under MIDAS Montenegro Institutional Development and Agriculture Strengthening Project  that supplied SPOCG with honey processing equipment to help realize its vision for the newly established House of Honey—an effort that has enabled the collection, purchase, and packaging of honey under controlled conditions and lead to the establishment of a recognizable brand known as "The Montenegrin Honey." The House of Honey has also become a center for beekeepers to gather, share knowledge and experiences, and work unitedly on strengthening the industry.

Cover of the Atlas of Honey Plants, Danilovgrad, Montenegro, July 2023.
Cover of the Atlas of Honey Plants, Danilovgrad, Montenegro.
The Atlas, House of Honey, and the Montenegrin Honey brand—are all the result of a concerted effort by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management to listen to and work with local stakeholders to strengthen the sector, understand sustainability, and create opportunities for growth and employment.

“The successful completion of the Atlas of Honey Plants and Apiary Cadaster showcases the remarkable results that can be achieved when stakeholders—like the SPOCG, local beekeepers’ associations, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, and development partners—work together towards a common goal.  The work on this activity has strengthened and reenergized the already tightly woven network of beekeepers in Montenegro. It also further deepened the relationship of the beekeepers with the relevant state institutions," stressed Silvia Mauri, the World Bank’s lead on MIDAS2. “This example can serve as an inspiration for other producers and organizations within the agriculture and fishery sectors to emulate the collaboration, professionalism, and motivation displayed by the SPOCG and the Ministry for reaching common goals.”


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