The inspiring story of the 91-year-old Brazilian beekeeper


“The bees are an example for us,” says Mr. Heriberto Silva, a 91-year-old beekeeper from Goiás, in central Brazil. He is one of many beekeepers who recently have been trained to increase the productivity of his hives and thus contribute to the environment preservation and the quality of Brazilian honey sold worldwide.

Despite the hard work he has been doing recently, he struggled with significant challenges that ended with the loss of several bees. He hasn’t given up, though. At the age of 91, Heriberto reached our National Rural Training Service (SENAR) for help.

Heriberto learned how to improve bee nutrition to produce more honey, as well as to preserve nature, a job that he takes very seriously: “Bees are insects that have the finger of God on them. No man can do what a bee does.”

Now, Mr. Silva is seen as a role model for young beekeepers to keep learning and working with love, dedication, and discipline. Just like a bee. “Bees are examples of organization for us, humans. Everything good comes from bees,” he said in a recent interview.

The secret in continuing to work with discipline and vitality at the age of 91? Honey every day and propolis every night. Brazil exports this lifestyle to the world with increasing sales in apiculture (or beekeeping) products.


Brazilian honey

Brazil is capable of feeding the world with quality and variety. According to the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA), based on data from the Ministry of Economy, in April 2021, the country exported US$ 22.5 million in beekeeping products, a growth of 143.9% compared to the same month in 2020.

Natural honey drove the performance of the sector and was the best seller, with exports of US$ 20.7 million in April (92% of the total). Beeswax, on the other hand, reached US$ 1.8 million in the same period. The USA was the principal buyer market for beekeeping products, with a 67.4% share of the total. This was followed by the European Union (12.4%), Canada (10.0%), Japan (4.9%), and China (2.2%).

Beekeeping products are also part of the priority production lines in the Agro.BR project, an initiative by CNA in partnership with Apex-Brasil focusing on the internationalization of Brazilian agribusiness.