I have been in southern France for two months. My stay is being sponsored by ADAPI (Association pour le Développment de l’Apiculture Provençale), Maison des Agriculteurs, 22 Ave. Henri Pontier 13626 France. My proposal is to look at pollination practices by beekeepers and others both inside and outside of greenhouses as well as exchange ideas on beekeeping management.
The structure of ADAPI as it relates to other beekeeping associations is complex. I am helping the organization put together a web site which will provide detailed information about its mission, goals and relationships. In general, it is dedicated to helping its full-time commercial (called here “professional”) beekeeper members in a number of ways.
ADAPI began in 1986; the current Director is Mr. Pascal Jourdan. As a student at the Ecole Supérior d’Agriculture de Purpan-Toulouse, Mr. Jourdan did a detailed study of apiculture in the south of France. The results were reported in L’Apiculture méditerranéenne, Une Profession Agricole Dynamique, published in 1982 by the institute Technique de l’Apiculture et Office Pour l’Information et la Documentation en Apiculture (OPIDA).
Things have changed since the publication of Mr. Jourdan’s volume. However, it is revealing to see some of the conclusions derived at that time from a 13-page survey of ninety-two beekeepers, each managing 130 or more colonies. The aim was to look at only full-time (professional) beekeepers in the region. The survey was inspired by an earlier work in 1979 done in the Paris Basin by Bernard Vaissiere, who subsequently received his doctoral degree at Texas A & M University and is now employed in pollination research by the French equivalent of USDA (INRA) at Montfavet near Avignon.
Mr. Jourdan’s conclusions based on his survey of professional beekeepers are:
1. Many have come from city origins and most have relatively new operations using advanced technology.
2. Most have chosen the life of a full-time beekeeper because of a love of nature, passion for bees and search for independence.
3. The majority received their training as apprentices. Only 13 percent are offspring of commerical (professional) beekeepers.
4. In contrast to the relatively aged beekeepers in Dr. Vaissiere’s study , Mr. Jourdan found a youthful population (average age 43.7 years) with 36 percent under age 40. My casual observations of the current beekeeping population would agree with this conclusion today.
5. Apiculture is a family business; 95 percent of those questioned were married. In 24 percent of operations, married women defined beekeeping as their chief work.
6. The rate of persons entering the beekeeping profession has accelerated. Whereas from 1944 to 1968, an average of two operations per year were started, from 1968 to 1980, four per year was the norm.
According to Mr. Jourdan, in 1981, the average number of colonies per operation was 466; forty percent of operations used 200 to 400 colonies. Some large operations over a thousand colonies were also reported, the largest being 1,300 hives. He also analysed the labor input and the percentage of other commercial beekeeper activities, including manufacturing and marketing beauty products ( 31%), mead (60%), honey spice bread (22%) and confections (28%).
In conclusion, Mr. Jourdan said his analysis shows that beekeeping is a true professional agricultural activity in southern France. He based this on the number of colonies managed, labor involved and revenue derived from beekeeping operations. He further analysed hive placement, feeding practices and colony mortality causes, as well as migratory activity. A large portion of the volume is given over to an in-depth analysis of costs and returns in beekeeping, an activity Mr. Jourdan carries on today with the ADAPI membership.
Subsequent to his study, Mr. Jourdan together with others in the region, developed the idea that professional beekeepers needed to band together to provide a stable source of assistance and information. Thus, ADAPI was born. Because of his previous work in the region, contact with the beekeeping community and extensive knowledge of bee management, it was only logical that Mr. Jourdan become the executive director.