Kosovo has suitable conditions for beekeeping development such as climate, relief, and many honey-bearing plants that guarantee the production of good honey and beekeeping products (Panettieri 2013). Beekeeping is a viable business that significantly contributes to increasing and diversifying many rural households' incomes in Kosovo Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development (MAFRD. 2017). Beekeeping provides various benefits, such as income from the sale of bee products, self-employment opportunities, pollination, and biodiversity conservation. Currently, Kosovo has 6,453 beekeepers with 70,664 bee-hives distributed in Kosovo's territory, with average production for bee society 9.55 kg honey or 674 t/yr. In contrast, the import in 2014 was around 140 t/yr Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS 2019). In addition to honey, other products are produced, such as pollen, wax, propolis, bees milk, etc. (MAFRD 2015).
Similarly, Kosovo also imports honey, but there is no standard to check the quality of honey being imported. There is no report on the contamination of honey consumed within the country. Beekeepers commonly apply antibiotics to eliminate disease among honeybees. Researchers revealed that residues of antibiotics in honey are originated mostly from improper beekeeping practices and not from the environment (Forsgren et al. 2010; Johanson et al. 2010; Gajda et al. 2013).
Moreover, some pesticides and veterinary drugs are suspected of causing certain types of cancer, teratogenicity, chromosomal abnormalities, and the weakening of humans' immune system (Banerjee. 1999; McEvoy. 2002; Muhammad et al. 2009; Jeong et al. 2010). Some drugs have the potential to produce toxic reactions in consumers directly. Antibiotics can cause cutaneous eruptions, dermatitis, gastro-intestinal symptoms, and anaphylaxis at very low doses (Gehrig and Warshaw 2008). Antibiotic residues consumed along with honey can produce resistance among bacteria in the consumers, and consequently, there is difficulty in treating many infections in humans (Pyun et al. 2008).
Low dosages of antibiotics used for growth promotion or inappropriate antibiotic prophylaxis in food animals (including bees) for long periods could result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can transfer from food to humans (Petrović et al. 2008; Asselt et al. 2013). The use of antibiotics in beekeeping is illegal in some European Union (EU) countries. However, there are no maximum residues levels maximum residue levels (MRLs) established for antibiotics in honey according to European Community (EC) regulations, which means that honey containing antibiotics residues are not permitted to be sold (EU 2002). The treatment of honeybees with antibiotics is prohibited in the EU, and there have been significant advances in EU legislation concerning risk assessment. So far, no MRLs have been established for antibiotics and sulfonamides in honey (EU 2010), theoretically meaning that the use of antibiotics by beekeeping is not permitted by European Commission. As stipulated in Annex II of Council Directive, 2001/110/EC (EU 2001), they must, as much as possible, be free from organic or inorganic matter foreign to its composition. EC Directive, 2377/90 with annexes, states that honey should be free from antibiotics contamination (EU 1990), so honey containing these substances cannot be sold in most EU countries, and no MRL of antibiotic residues have been laid down. Some states, like Switzerland, United Kingdom (the UK), and Belgium, have established action limits (level of antibiotics in honey beyond which the sample is deemed non-compliant) for antibiotics in honey, which generally lies between 1.0 to 5.0 ng/mL for each antibiotic group.
Streptomycin (an antibiotic) is a protein synthesis inhibitor, and despite its toxicity, it is widely used in veterinary medicine for the treatment of aerobic gram-negative bacteria infections (Oliveira et al. 2009; Horie et al. 2004). Streptomycin is commonly used in apiculture for the prophylactic treatment or control of bacterial brood diseases such as European foulbrood and American foulbrood disease (Victoria et al. 2007; Pena et al. 2005). High concentrations of Streptomycin may produce ototoxicity and nephrotoxic effects. However, regular consumption of Streptomycin at low concentrations in foods may also cause allergies, destroy intestinal flora, and cause resistance to certain microorganisms (Cara et al. 2013; Gačić et al. 2015).