Thursday, November 28, 2013

Apiculture - Madeira Island

APICULTURE EXPEDITION - Apiaries and the apicultural landscape of Madeira
The agricultural landscape of Madeira is dominated by the terraces or ledges that rise up the slopes from the sea to the mountain range.
The construction of retaining walls to support the terraces and the construction of levadas (water ways) for carrying water, have conditioned the way that the apiaries, beehives and bees integrate the landscape.
The great variety of the natural habitat, in terms of climate and vegetation, has contributed to the emergence of new subspecies or breeds of the Apis mellifera bees, with different characteristics and adapted to the different environmental conditions.
Formerly, the first colonies of Apis mellifera constituted a rustic activity whose main objective, for most of the producers, was to meet their own consumption needs.
Currently, the apicultural activity provides economic gains and contributes to maintaining and preserving the environment.
The beehives are made of wood, usually cryptomeria or pine, harmonizing in perfect tune with their surroundings.
Their conservation is made with a bath of molten paraffin to waterproof and preserve them, or they are painted with bright colours, easily blending in as a typical element of the landscape.
Many cultivated plants, especially fruit trees, depend on insects for pollination.
Sometimes the beehives are placed near the orchards so as to contribute to achieving a more rich and abundant harvest.
The vegetation cover, characteristic of the island, displays a variety of flora that is important for apiculture.
The array of bee flora, made up of native and introduced plants, permeates the landscape with vegetation that extends from the wide coast and valleys along the coastline, up to the strata of the laurel forest.
This diversity and richness of flora in Madeira, along with the absence of serious diseases, contribute to achieve high-quality honey. In its production, the colour and flavour are directly linked to the predominance of the flora used.
While the honey obtained from multi-flora is darker and generally very nutritious, the honey made from single flower species are lighter-coloured and have smoother flavours and aromas.
Just as the bees were important since the dawn of humanity, a symbol of defence and fortune, today too they continue to producing very rich natural foods, being an important contribution to biodiversity.

Technical Details
Date of Issue: 17 May 2013
Values: stamps of 0,36€ 0.70€, 0,80€ and 1,70€.
Souvenir sheet with stamp of 1,70€.
Souvenir sheet with stamp of 1,90€.
Acknowledgments: Direção Regional de Agricultura e Desenvolvimento Rural
Região Autónoma da Madeira
Designer: Elizabete Fonseca
Printer: Cartor
Process: Offset
Size: stamps: 40,0 x 30,6 mm
Souvenor sheet: 125 x 95 mm
Perforation: Cross of Christ 13 x 13
Paper: FSC 110 g./m2
Sheet: with 50 stamps

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