Beehive numbers in EU: agriculture’s buzzing backbone


The beekeeper takes frame with honey from the beehive.

On  April 5, 2023, the Commission responded to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) ‘Save bees and farmers!’ by stating that the priority is to ensure that the proposals currently being negotiated on the sustainable use of pesticides and the restoration of nature are adopted and then implemented in a timely manner. It acknowledged the importance of pollinators in agriculture as a crucial means of ensuring the EU’s food security and in fighting biodiversity losses. In light of World Bee Day (May 20, 2023), we examine the number of beehives on EU farms.

In 2020, there were 8.1 million beehives on EU farms. This is no more than a partial picture of all the beehives in the EU, because the Agricultural Census only records beehives on farms (in some countries, like Germany, beehives are not considered a part of farms). At national level, Romania had 1.5 million beehives on farms, more than any other EU country. Italy and Greece each accounted for a further 1 million beehives on farms, with Spain (0.9 million beehives), Bulgaria (0.9 million) and Portugal (0.7 million) having the next highest.

Bees are kept throughout the EU; they pollinate a wide range of crops that are grown in warmer and colder climes. They are able to survive colder climates by overwintering in their hives, using up honey reserves.

The highest number of beehives on farms in any one region was found in the Spanish region of Extremadura (300 220), followed by the Portuguese region of Norte (257 040). The Romanian region of Nord-Vest (250 510) registered the third-largest number.

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Methodological notes:

  • This dataset focuses on beehives located on farms only.
  • Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden: no statistically significant numbers of beehives on farms.