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Drought causes half of all bees to ‘flee’ from their hives

Lack of flowering will affect honey production in Yucatan

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Yucatan honey producers are in serious trouble. Photo: Sipse archive

Due to Yucatan’s historic drought and high temperatures, the plant known as the dzidzilché has not flourished.

This is bad news for beekeepers, and for the honey bees that fuel much of the Peninsula’s economy.

A low harvest scenario is predicted, said the director of Abeja Planet, Nelly Ortiz Vázquez.

“We are waiting for the rain and so far no drop has fallen,” said Ortiz. “That affects us since we are producing 50 percent less than last year … We do expect this situation to pass quickly.”

She reported that despite the fact that at this moment the flowers of the jabín, chacá and chechén are being seen to a greater extent, the moment is coming when they will “get stressed” and die because of the urgency of the presence of rain.

April normally brings over an inch of rain, but so far this month not a drop has fallen from the sky, according to the Weather Channel’s almanac.

“The bees, in the absence of food, abandoned their hives,” she reported. “We estimate that around 50 percent left, so if a beekeeper had 50 places to harvest honey he only kept 25, which is causing a lack of good production of this food.”

The crisis follows a series of misfortunes.

Boom times ended in 2012, when Yucatan fell from its perch as Mexico’s leader in honey production.

“We haven’t only lost influence in international markets, but also at the national level. Yucatán fell from first to third and fourth places in honey production, surpassed by states like Jalisco and Veracruz,” Ortiz Vázquez said in 2019.

A reduction in exports to the European Union occurred when Chinese sugar-beet honey flooded the market.

Deforestation, deadly pesticides from neighboring farms, and pests such as varroa mites all bedevil Yucatan’s beekeepers.

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