Beekeeping in Malta
It is estimated that there are some 200 beekeepers in Malta most of which conduct this activity as a hobby, on a part-time basis or to pollinate their crops. On average the local beekeepers hold a small number of hives.
Work with Youth
Youths are exposed to beekeeping during annual agricultural shows organised for the general public. The college of agriculture in Malta also organises an annual open day and a stand on beekeeping is on display.
There are no national competitions on beekeeping.
Interesting tips for Apitourism
Beekeeping in Malta has a long history. The Greeks called the island ‘Melite’ (Μελίτη) which derives from the Greek word meli (μέλι) that means honey. This name was also used under the Romans and was changed during the Arab rule to ‘Malta’.
A sub-species of the honey bee (Apis Mellifera Ruttneri) is endemic to the Maltese Islands. During the many colonisers which dominated the islands, honey from Malta was considered as a delicacy and also used to be an export product from the island. It is regarded that the Phoenicians introduced the domestication of beekeeping in apiaries and earthenware jars and some Punic apiaries remain. During the Roman times Cicero in the case of Gaius Verres accuses Verres that he had stolen many jars of honey. The islands at that time fell under the jurisdiction of Sicily where Verres was a Roman magistrate.
In the countryside, one can find apiaries called ‘miġbħa’ that date to Punic times. One of them is the Xemxija apiary that is one of the oldest and best example in the world. In theory this apiary is still in a state of use although the way beekeeping is done today have a different technique from that time as now we use portable frame hives.
Malta’s climate permits beekeeping to be an all the year round activity. The Maltese honeybee, the ‘Apis Mellifera Ruttneri’, has particularly adapted itself to the Maltese habitat and works steadily in adverse climatic conditions – in the hot Summers and in the cool Winters. This therefore makes it possible for apitourists to visit Maltese apiaries which are open to the public any time during the year to see our busy bees working.
Beekeeping courses are available for those wishing to study on a full-time or on a part-time evening basis. Beekeeping training is conducted by the MCAST Institute of Applied Sciences – Centre for Agriculture, Aquatics and Animal Sciences, Luqa Road, Qormi. For further information one can contact MCAST on CAAAS@mcast.edu.mt or by visiting their website http://www.mcast.edu.mt/index
ICYB contact person, email
Contact for a youngster for AYB
(Association of Young Beekeepers)