There is growing concern about declines in pollinator species, and more recently reservations have been expressed about mismatch in plant-pollinator synchrony as a consequence of phenological change caused by rising temperatures. Long-term changes in honeybee Apis mellifera phenology may have major consequences for agriculture, especially the pollinator market, as well as for honey production. To date, these aspects have received only modest attention. In the current study, we examine honeybee and beekeeping activity in southern Poland for the period 1965–2010, supplemented by hive yields from a beekeeper in southern UK in the same period. We show that despite negative reports on honeybee condition, and documented climate change, the studied apiary managed to show a marked increase in honey production over the 46 year study period, as did that from the UK. The proportion of the annual yield originating from the first harvest decreased during the study period and was associated with rising temperatures in summer. Honeybee spring phenology showed strong negative relationships with temperature but no overall change through time because temperatures of key early spring months had not increased significantly. In contrast, increasing yields and an increased number of harvests (and hence a later final harvest and longer season) were detected and were related to rising temperatures in late spring and in summer.
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- Honeybee phenology
- Climate change
- Honey production