Welcome to the Norwegian Beekeepers Association, the NBA.
How to become a beekeeper in Norway?
We recomend all new beekeepers to attend a course in beekeeping. Even if you have experience as a beekeeper from a differente country, the weather conditions, disease situation/treatment and way of keeping bees are probably differente from what you are familiar with. The local associations offer beekeeping courses. Fint the closest one to you by clicking Fylkes/ lokallag in the left menu.
Your beekeeping equipment you can buy from the beekeepers Co-op, Honningcentralen. The bees you buy from local breeders or beekeepers, the local Association can help you with places to buy bees. It is of most importance that the bees you buy are inspected to be healthy. It is not allowed to move bees that are not inspected.
If you can not have the bees at your own home, it is possible to place them somewhere else. You need the landowners permition to keep them there.
Most beekeepers in Norway are self-emplyed, and they do not hire help. It is difficult to find at job tending bees for someone else in Norway. The Norwegian Beekeepers Association does not convey beekeeping jobs.
In Norway we have three differente bee breeds, the black bee, carnica and buckfast bees. Some areas are for pure breeding, and you are only allowed to have a specific breed of bees in this area. Check with your local beekeepers association which breed is allowed in your area.
Prevention of honeybee diseases
The status of honeybee health is very good in Norway compared to most other countries. Winter losses are low with an average of about 10% during the last 10 years and significantly lower than in our neighboring countries. Norway is perhaps the only country where Varroa destructor is battled exclusively by biotechnical methods and organic acids. The work of NB has been crucial to avoid the use of pesticides for varroa treatment. Parts of the country are still free of Varroa due to restrictions on movements of colonies from infested areas to uninfested areas.
American foulbrood is a very rare disease in Norway with an average of one infected apiary/year. All colonies in infected operations are burnt and the beekeeper receives a fair compensation for the loss.
European Foulbrood was unnoticed in Norway (perhaps with the exception of a possibly infected apiary in 1980) until a major outbreak occurred in 2010. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority decided to go for an extermination attempt and in 2010 and 2011 about 4300 colonies were killed. As with AFB, the beekeepers get a fair compensation for their losses. Only 5 apiaries were found to be infected in 2012 and we expect only a few incidences in the years to come.
Beekeepers are encouraged to increase the rate of wax renewal to prevent brood diseases and Nosema, but many beekeepers claim that they need old brood combs for the heather honey due to its thixotropic properties (new combs are often destroyed during honey extraction).
Colony and apiary management
Almost all beekeepers use the same frame size (Norwegian standard, 398mm * 260mm), and hive bodies, each taking 10 frames, of styropor. Beekeepers winter their colonies in one box, and normally add 2-4 supers during spring and summer. Most beekeepers in Norway are hobby beekeepers, but about 90 beekeepers have more than 100 colonies. Number of colonies in each apiary site varies among beekeepers with more than 10 colonies from 5-20, depending on the nectar and pollen availability. When colonies are located in areas with heather (Calluna vulgaris) some beekeepers have up to 30 colonies on each apiary site. Migratory beekeeping is common, partly to pollinate fruit and berries, but more common beekeepers move their colonies in late July to areas with heather which blooms in late July – August. Honey is harvested once or twice, normally in mid-July and late August (if they have colonies with access to heather). Colonies are fed 15-20 kg sugar (as syrup) in late August late September. Beekeepers in the areas with established varroa population threat their colonies with oxalic acid against varroa in fall when the colonies are brood free (October-December).
The conditions for organic beekeeping are good in Norway. More than 90% of the honey comes from wild flowers and the agricultural areas make up less than 3% of the total land area. The rules for organic beekeeping are strict and regulated and controlled by Debio on behalf of the agricultural authorities. For many beekeepers the shift from conventional to organic beekeeping would be easy, by just feeding the bees organic sugar instead of conventional sugar. However there are some cost and extra paperwork to be an organic honey producer. Since the price difference between conventional and organic honey is limited, organic beekeeping is only profitable for beekeepers with perhaps more than 30 colonies.
At the moment the number of organic beekeepers is low (30 registered by Debio) but will probably increase in the future.
Best practices in beekeeping
Due to the long winter and early nectar flows it is important to winter strong colonies. Weak colonies are often lost during winter and only strong colonies will be able to take advantage of the early nectar flows.
To help the colonies to build up in early spring it is important that they the beekeepers stimulate the brood production by feeding the bees with sugar paste and pollen substitute if necessary. Further it is important that they wait with the first super until the colony is strong enough to heat the brood. At the same time it is important that they follow up with the second and third super with a one week interval to avoid swarming. Beekeepers are encouraged to change the queens in their colonies every second year to have young and productive queens.
Beekeeping in Norway takes place under different conditions due to regional variation in climate and important nectar flows.
About the Norwegian Beekeepers Association
The NBA was founded in 1884 as the professional organisation for beekeepers in Norway.
The Norwegian Beekeepers Association works for better terms for the Norwegian beekeepers. One important issue is an active breeding program for the Nordic black bee and Carnica, the two most common breeds in Norway. The NBA also supports the Buckfast breeder club. Other important issues are an active disease program, a recruitment program, information work about organic beekeeping and working with other agricultural organizations to achieve better terms for beekeeping in Norway.
The organisation is constructed like a hierarki, with 110 local associations, 13 county associations and 1 national association. The NBA is ruled by the annual meeting where representatives from the local associations come to vote on different matters. The annual meeting also chooses members of the board. The NBA has approximately 2500 members, with 45 000 hives.
If you have any questions or comments to the Norwegian Beekeepers Association please call us at + 47-63 94 20 80, or send us an e-mail in English, Danish, Swedish or Norwegian at post”at”norbi.no or use the contact form “kontakt oss” at the front page.