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Beekeeping trip to Northern Portugal

In the summer of 2009 I visited the Porto area of Northern Portugal. I was part of a group of beekeepers on "Beetour" visiting fellow beekeepers in the area. We also went over the border into Spain on a couple of occasions.
The northern part of Portugal is much greener than the south.High rainfall can be a problem to beekeepers but this coupled with a warm climate and lots of forests mean it can be a good honey gathering area. Eucalytus is a very important source of honey.

We spent sometime visiting the bees of Mr Jorge, a semi professional beekeeper based near Barcelos. He had 200 colonies in a number of apiaries. Mr Jorge keeps the local dark bee , apis mellifera iberica, in most hives which seemed fairly placid and productive. The huge piles of supers on Mr Jorge’s hive were a testament to that. On a visit over the border into Spain we visited Mieles Outeda (www.milesouteda.com) huge commercial operation with 5000 hives employing over 40 people. Producing honey and a huge range of hive products this was a major organisation. On the same trip we also went to the bee museum O Enredo do Abelliero near to Azura

(www.abelleiro.com) .The museum has a fine display of rustic and modern beekeeping in a woodland setting.The hives are all painted in the traditional local colours and I was particularly taken with the hives stands; single scaffolding poles with a paving slab sitting on top.
Log hives were occupied with big strong colonies which at the time of our visit seemed to be working a flow from the Limes. There is a fine display of equipment, a well stocked shop selling honey and hive products and excellent observation hives.

I would recommend the museum to beekeepers and non beekeepers alike.
Although we did not see a lot of beekeeping compared to some of my earlier trips the countryside and tourist experience on this visit was excellent. Mr Jorge was a very good host and guide during the week . He seems to be an excellent beekeeper who is resourceful and has developed techniques to make the best out of the local conditions. His use of opened up milk cartons to lag hives was interesting. The lagging provides waterproofing from the heavy rainfall and reflects heat when the sun is strong.
One of the tourist highlights for me were the gardens of the Palacio de Mateus with its tremendous clipped box formal areas like rooms in the open air!The photos I took do not necessarily do the place justice but I hope you get the feel of it.