The Conceição family lives in the centre of Portugal, and beekeeping has been their family occupation for decades. They produce honey, pollen, propolis, wax and bees, and their income depends on this family business.

As beekeeping depends on the flowering season, the occurrence of ecological changes such as early or late flowering makes it difficult for the bees to adapt and function properly. Furthermore, any increase in temperature leads to various unfortunate situations for both the bees and the beekeepers. Increased temperatures during winter allow the pests that are normally dormant in cold weather to attack the bees during their most vulnerable period. During summer, heat above 40° often causes the honeycombs inside the hives to melt. Rapid variations of temperature during spring also cause the bees to stop building the necessary wax combs (for reproduction as well as storing honey and pollen).

The family is observing all these changes and facing a significant decline in the productivity of their hives, which is scientifically associated with climate change. They now have to take additional measures such as artificial feeding, but despite these precautions, they lost almost 60% of their production in 2017. Besides, the amount of time necessary to tend the hives and bees has quadrupled; they now have to hire more people in order to maintain the business. As a result, the family occupation is on the verge of becoming untenable in providing a livelihood to the family and sustaining them. The father, Ildebrando Conceição, explains the impacts of climate change on their family business: “Today, we don’t have four seasons anymore, only winter and summer. This situation is disturbing the work of the bees because they take more time to adapt to climatic variations. The decrease in honey production, which has been continuous over the years, has reduced my family’s economic income, which derives from beekeeping activities.

Now the family is at risk of losing their traditional family business. They want to know what will happen to the family business when the bees are gone. They want to scrutinise whether the European decision makers are courageous enough to increase Europe’s climate target in order to protect them from the worsening impacts of climate change that are affecting their livelihood. The father, Ildebrando Conceição, urges the EU to increase its climate action: “We started this legal case because this is a problem that isn’t just national: it requires that the EU does something more to counteract this situation that affects our lives and jeopardises the future of younger generations.

Please contact ZERO to reach out to the family.