Spanish Beekeepers Furious About ‘Rice Syrup’ Honey From China

Beekeepers in Spain have taken to the street to voice their concerns regarding the immense amounts of Chinese honey imports.

Apiarists gathered in front of a regional administration building in Santander, northern Spain, to call for more financial support as their working conditions are becoming increasingly difficult.

Antonio Vazquez represents beekeepers at the agricultural organisation COAG. Antonio criticised that 7,500 tonnes of honey had been shipped to the country from China between January and November of last year.

Antonio warned: “If the label does not clearly indicate that a product comes from Spain, the jar probably contains some kind of syrup.”

The COAG official added: “It’s not even honey of poor quality. In most cases, it’s just sweet rice syrup.”


Antonio – who made clear that protests would continue across the country in the coming months – called on the federal government to increase subsidies for domestic apiaries.

Referring to the intense import activities and extreme weather conditions, he emphasised: “We’re simply unable to compete.”

Antonio claimed Spanish beekeepers were “dying” from the spiralling costs, adding that last summer’s heatwave made things even worse.

According to the COAG representative, more than 35,000 tonnes of honey were imported from all over the world to Spain in 2022.

Antonio called on customers to buy organic Spanish honey in small stores where regional products are on offer.

Spain’s beekeepers managed nearly three million hives in 2021, according to a European Commission survey. No other country among the EU’s 27 member states registered more hives that year. Romania (2.4mn) and Greece (2.2mn) came second and third respectively.


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