Galicia’s beautiful and picturesque landscapes are the inception of a unique beekeeping practice, which has offered known and valued honeybee products since time immemorial for their natural quality. Landscapes teeming with flowers full of pollen and nectar, which favour the settlement of beehives. Apart from the valuable honeys, they inseparably offer their beautiful blossoming throughout the year, which will later become tasty and varied fruits resulting from the essential union between plants and bees.
Among these abundant flowers, we must highlight chestnut tree flowers, Castanea sativa, considered the most interesting flower in Galicia from a beekeeping point of view. Chestnut trees can be found isolated or forming forests, known as «soutos» or «castañal», and are found aplenty in the provinces of Ourense and Lugo and some areas in the provinces of A Coruña and Pontevedra. Their beekeeping value is very high, since they produce a good amount of nectar, pollen and even honeydew at the end of the summer. Catkins, or chestnut tree flowers, illuminate the landscape and pervade forests with their aroma in early summer.
The landscape of purple hues sketched by heaths in the Galician inland forests turns out to be a true sight to behold, as well as a source of nectar for bees. These heaths are frequently combined with brooms to make mixed vegetation formations. Erica heathers, mainly the E. umbellata, have a high beekeeping value, as their blooming starts in February and ends in August. Regarding brooms or genistas, belonging to the Leguminosae family, interesting plants from a beekeeping perspective due to their production both in terms of nectar and pollen, contribute in spring to the creation of the white or yellow patches in our forests, depending on the dominant species in every particular area.
In the Galician countryside, bramble patches are never amiss; as a matter of fact, brambles are genuine melliferous flower plants from our land. Bramble honey –Rubus genus, Rosaceae family– is produced in inland Galician rural areas where this plant, traditionally used as a natural fence, is able to survive these days by colonising abandoned farmland. They are very important plants for their pollen and nectar production. Brambles start blooming at the end of May and finish the cycle in August.
Eucalyptus forests are found aplenty about the shoreline as a result of reafforestation. Blooming occurs in adult individuals from November to March; therefore, it is possible to obtain a high nectar secretion and to produce big amounts of monofloral honey. Honey-wise, the most standout tree of this species is the Eucalyptus globulus genus.
The oak, an autochthonous tree forever linked to our landscape, culture and traditions, is also highly relevant in the beekeeping field for its capacity to produce honeydew; namely the Quercus pyrenaica species, particularly in the south of the province of Lugo and in the eastern part of the province of Ourense. The lush oak groves (carballeiras), found in almost every Galician village, are losing their space due to the changes in forest use, but they still shelter numerous animal species –bees among them– as well as being a resting and leisure place for anybody willing to approach.