Sweet Honey Gifts from Mykolaiv in the Netherlands
Bee-keeper family from Mykolaiv region lost their apiary and part of equipment due to military operations, but were able to relocate their facilities to a safer area, and are now restoring production.
Dmytro Mytkovsky started beekeeping about twenty years ago, and as he gained more experience, he increased the number of bee families every year. When his apiary grew to 150 beehives, he became an official honey producer. In March 2022, the hives at his farm were damaged by shrapnel as a result of constant shelling. A rocket hit the neighbor's yard, and the beekeeper lost his stock of frames, beeswax, containers for collecting honey, and equipment for pumping out honey. The village was shelled continuously and the villagers, including the family of Mytkovsky were forced to evacuate.
However, this did not stop the beekeeper. Together with his wife Natalya and daughter Veronika they were able to relocate some equipment and continue their family business in a new place, village Ozerna in another part of Mykolaiv region, away from hostilities, not far from the Yelanetsky steppe nature reserve. The beekeeper started new organic honey farm "Medivnytsia". Now his apiary has 80 beehives, from which he already pumped honey this summer. With support from the specialists of the USAID Project "Economic Support of Ukraine" and from the Dutch NGO Life Line Ukraine he continues growing and even set up export of honey.
"The war could not take away my love for bees. Despite the losses, we continue to work," says Dmytro.
Last summer he met an entrepreneur and volunteer from the Netherlands, Jeroen Ketting, who came to Ukraine to help small producers restore their businesses. Jeroen immediately brought Dmytro in contact with the Dutch businessman and beekeeper Wouter Hasekampt and offered to export Ukrainian honey to the Netherlands. That's how the cooperation began.
Specialists of the USAID Project helped Dmytro to set up his export activities. He found a processing company that prepared honey for export, applied for the necessary permits, received a certificate from a German laboratory for honey quality, and was able to start exporting to the Netherlands.
"I had 1.5 tons of honey, beekeepers usually cannot export such a volume, it is too small a batch. But we found a factory that agreed to homogenize (provide a uniform structure) for our honey and we went through this process. Beekeepers often do not want to deal with paperwork, because it is long and expensive. But after going through it once, you know how to proceed. I really want my colleagues to know that it is possible to prepare documents to export by yourself or in cooperation with other beekeepers. We already have a request from buyers in the Netherlands to buy 20 tons of our honey next year, so we plan to cooperate with local beekeepers to prepare for this and fulfill the order," says the beekeeper.
Dmytro is ready to share with others his export experience so that beekeepers believe that the producers can export as well, they just need to make an effort. Currently, the “Medivnytsia” honey farm is undergoing organic certification according to European standards. Products from such an apiary are in greater demand abroad and have a higher price, which will allow the beekeeper to earn more. In order to deepen his knowledge, Dmytro completed organic production certification training organized by the USAID Project in the beginning of December.
"Today, small and medium-sized enterprises need support, because they are faced with specific problems caused by the war, and they are looking for practical solutions. Thanks to the support of Ukrainian and Dutch mentors, "Medivnytsia" found a solution. European buyers appreciated the taste of our sunflower and acacia honey, which is not available in the Netherlands," the beekeeper believes.
These days, honey from the family apiary packaged in glass jars is available in the Netherlands as part of Christmas baskets with more goods from Ukrainian craft producers, but also separately.
Facebook page of the USAID Economic Resilience Activity Project.