Organic Honey Standard – European Union

COUNCIL REGULATION (EC)No 1804/1999 of 19 July 1999 supplementing Regulation (EEC)No 2092/91 on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs to include livestock production
(OJ L 222,24.8.1999,p.1)


1. General principles

1.1. Beekeeping is an important activity that contributes to the protection of the environament and agricultural and forestry production through the pollination action of bees.
1.2. The qualification of beekeeping products as being from organic production is closely bound up both with the characteristic of the hives’ treatments and the quality of the environment. This qualification also depends on the conditions for extraction, processing and storage of beekeeping products.
1.3. When an operator runs several beekeeping units in the same area all the units must comply with the requirements of this Regulation. By derogation from this principle, an operator can run units not complying with this Regulation provided that all the requirements of this Regulation are fulfilled with the exception of the provisions laid down in paragraph 4.2 for the siting of the apiaries. In that case, the product cannot be sold with references to organic production methods.

2. Conversion period

2.1. Beekeeping products can be sold with references to the organic production method only when the provisions laid down in this Regulation have been complied with for at least one year. During the conversion period the wax has to be replaced according to the requirements laid down in paragraph 8.3.

3. Origin of the bees

3.1. In the choice of breeds, account must be taken of the capacity of animals to adapt to local conditions, their vitality and their resistance to disease. Preference shall be given to the use of European breeds of Apis mellifera and their local ecotypes.
3.2. Apiaries must be constituted by means of the division of colonies or the acquisition of swarms or hives from units complying with the provisions laid down in this Regulation.
3.3. By way of a first derogation, subject to the prior approval by the inspection authority or body, apiaries existing in the production unit not complying with the rules of this Regulation can be converted.
3.4. By way of a second derogation, swarms on their own may be acquired from beekeepers not producing in accordance with this Regulation during a transitional period expiring on 24 August 2002 subject to the conversion period.
3.5. By way of a third derogation, the reconstitution of the apiaries shall be authorised by the control authority or body, when apiaries complying with this Regulation are not available, in case of high mortality of animals caused by health or catastrophic circumstances, subject to the conversion period.
3.6. By way of a fourth derogation, for the renovation of the apiaries 10% per year of the queen bees and swarms not complying with this Regulation can be incorporated into the organic-production unit provided that the queen bees and swarms are placed in hives with combs or comb foundations coming from organic-production units. In the case, the conversion period does not apply.

4. Siting of the apiaries

4.1. The Member States may designate regions or areas where beekeeping complying with this Regulation is not practicable. A map on an appropriate scale listing the location of hives as provided for in Annex III, Part A1, section 2, first indent shall be provided to the inspection authority or body by the beekeeper. Where no such areas are identified, the beekeeper must provide the inspection authority or body with appropriate documentation and evidence, including suitable analyses if necessary, that the areas accessible to his colonies meet the conditions required in this Regulation.
4.2. The siting of the apiaries must:
(a) ensure enough natural nectar, honeydew and pollen sources for bees and access to water;
(b) be such that, within a radius of 3 km from the apiary site, nectar and pollen sources consist essentially of organically produced crops and/or spontaneous vegetation, according to the requirements of Article 6 and Annex I of this Regulation, and crops not subject to the provisions of this Regulation but treated with low environmental impact methods such as, for example, those described in programs developed under Regulation (EEC)No 2078/92 which cannot significantly affect the qualification of beekeeping production as being organic;
(c) maintain enough distance from any non-agricultural production sources possibly leading to contamination, for example: urban centres, motorways, industrial areas, waste dumps, waste incinerators, etc. The inspection authorities or bodies shall establish measures to ensure this requirement.

The above requirements do not apply to areas where flowering is not taking place, or when the hives are dormant.

5. Feed

5.1. At the end of the production season hives must be left with reserves of honey and pollen sufficiently abundant to survive the winter.
5.2. The artificial feeding of colonies is authorised where the survival of the hives is endangered due to extreme climatic conditions. Artificial feeding shall be made with organically produced honey, preferably from the same organic-production unit.
5.3. By way of a first derogation from paragraph 5.2, the competent authorities of the Member States can authorise the use of organically-produced sugar syrup, or organic sugar molasses instead of organically-produced honey in artificial feeding, in particular, when it is required by climatic conditions that provoke crystallisation of honey.
5.4. By way of a second derogation, sugar syrup, sugar molasses and honey not covered by this Regulation may be authorised by the inspection authority or body for artificial feeding during a transitional period expiring on 24 August 2002.
5.5. The following information shall be entered in the register of the apiaries with regard to the use of artificial feeding: type of product, dates, quantities and hives where it is used.
5.6. Other products different from those indicated in paragraphs 5.1 to 5.4 cannot be used in beekeeping which complies with this Regulation.
5.7. Artificial feeding may be carried out only between the last honey harvest and 15 days before the start of the next nectar or honeydew flow period.

6. Disease prevention and veterinary treatments

6.1. Disease prevention in beekeeping shall be based on the following principles:
(a) the selection of appropriate hardy breeds;
(b) the application of certain practices encouraging strong resistance to disease and the prevention of infections, such as: regular renewal of queen bees, systematic inspection of hives to detect any health anomalies, control of male broods in the hives, disinfecting of materials and equipment at regular intervals, destruction of contaminated material or sources, regular renewal of beeswax and sufficient reserves of pollen and honey in hives.
6.2. If despite all the above preventive measures,the colonies become sick or infested,they must be treated immediately and,if necessary,the colonies can be placed in isolation apiaries.
6.3. The use of veterinary medicinal products in beekeeping which complies with this Regulation shall respect the following principles:
(a) they can be used in so far as the corresponding use is authorised in the Member State in accordance with the relevant Community provisions or national provisions in conformity with Community law;
(b) phytotherapeutic and homeopathic products shall be used in preference to allopathic products chemically synthesised, provided that their therapeutic effect is effective for the condition for which the treatment is intended;
(c) if the use of the above mentioned products should prove or is unlikely to be effective to eradicate a disease or infestation which risks destroying colonies, allopathic chemically synthesised medicinal products may be used under the responsibility of a veterinarian, or other persons authorised by the Member State, without prejudice to the principles laid down in paragraphs (a) and (b) above;
(d) the use of allopathic chemically synthesised medicinal products for preventive treatments is prohibited;
(e) without prejudice to the principle in (a) above formic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid and oxalic acid and the following substances: menthol, thymol, eucalyptol or camphor can be used in cases of infestation with Varroa jacobsoni
6.4. In addition to the above principles, veterinary treatments or treatments to hives, combs etc., which are compulsory under national or Community legislation shall be authorised.
6.5. If a treatment is applied with chemically synthesised allopathic products, during such a period, the colonies treated must be placed in isolation apiaries and all the wax must be replaced with wax complying with the conditions laid down in this Regulation. Subsequently, the conversion period of one year will apply to those colonies.
6.6. The requirements laid down in the previous paragraph do not apply to products mentioned in paragraph 6.3(e).
6.7. Whenever veterinary medicinal products are to be used, the type of product (including the indication of the active pharmacological substance) together with details of the diagnosis, the posology, the method of administration, the duration of the treatment and the legal withdrawal period must be recorded clearly and declared to the inspection body or authority before the products are marketed as organically produced.

7. Husbandry management practices and identification

7.1. The destruction of bees in the combs as a method associated with the harvesting of beekeeping products is prohibited.
7.2. Mutilation such as clipping the wings of queen bees is prohibited.
7.3. The replacement of the queen bees involving the killing of the old queen is permitted.
7.4. The practice of destroying the male brood is permitted only to contain the infestation with Varroa jacobsoni.
7.5. The use of chemical synthetic repellents is prohibited during honey extractions operations.
7.6. The zone where the apiary is situated must be registered together with the identification of the hives. The inspection body or authority must be informed of the moving of apiaries with a deadline agreed on with the inspection authority or body.
7.7. Particular care shall be taken to ensure adequate extraction, processing and storage of beekeeping products. All the measures to comply with these requirements shall be recorded.
7.8. The removals of the supers and the honey extraction operations must be entered in the register of the apiary.

8. Characteristics of hives and materials used in beekeeping

8.1. The hives must be made basically of natural materials presenting no risk of contamination to the environment or the apiculture products.
8.2. With the exception of products mentioned in paragraph 6.3(e) in the hives can be used only natural products such as propolis, wax and plant oils.
8.3. The beeswax for new foundations must come from organic production units. By way of derogation, in particular in the case of new installations or during the conversion period, bees wax not coming from such units may be authorised by the inspection authority or body in exceptional circumstances where organically produced beeswax is not available on the market and provided that it comes from the cap.
8.4. The use of combs, which contain broods, is prohibited for honey extraction.
8.5. For the purposes of protecting materials (frames, hives and combs), in particular from pests, only appropriate products listed in part B, Section 2, of Annex II are permitted.
8.6. Physical treatments such as stream or direct flame are permitted.
8.7. For cleaning and disinfecting materials, buildings, equipment, utensils or products used in beekeeping only the appropriate substances listed in Annex II Part E are permitted.