Bees, insects sensitive to agrochemicals, monoculture and climate change, are dying at the rate of 30% per year. And the production of honey is being affected.
Argentina is among the largest honey producers in the world, but it faces a serious problem with its bee colonies that are being affected by technified agriculture and climate change.
Beekeepers must replenish their colonies by 30% every year according to data from the Social Bee Research Center (CIAS).
Not only is honey production affected, since these insects are key agents in the pollination of vegetables, food production can be diminished. "The populations of bees and natural pollinators are in decline, it is a global problem," according to Martín Eguaras, doctor in biology and co-director of CIAS in Mar del Plata.
According to the expert, this is due to a series of phenomena such as "parasites that have become more virulent due to an abuse of pesticides that stress the bees, lower their defenses and diseases affect them more." The researchers came to that conclusion based on analysis of bees whose death had been caused by pesticides. "There are agrochemicals - added Eguaras - that are used in our country that are prohibited in Europe because they have been shown to kill bees that are in flight."
Before applying agrochemicals, producers must notify beekeepers to be able to remove the hives and avoid contact of pesticides with bees. The hives would return to the field when the period of persistence of the agrochemical in the environment ends. "In other cases, when the bee goes to the flowers, if there are agrochemicals, they can take them from the nectar or pollen that they end up taking to the hive," said Eguaras, a researcher at Conicet.
Effects of agrochemicals
In the Laboratory of Social Insects of the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the UBA they study the biology of the bee and its social behavior and food collection, and in the investigations they observed that “some herbicides such as glyphosate have a negative effect on bees as difficulties in learning a floral smell and that they can link it with a certain food; learn to orient yourself in a new environment; and to develop in the initial stages ”, indicated the researcher Walter Farina, in charge of the mentioned laboratory.
Farina stressed that the consequences are not minor since "a third of the world's agricultural food production depends on pollinating organisms that pass pollen from a male flower to a female flower." In addition, the researcher stressed that the honey bee is the main pollinator and added that "if there are fewer bees each time we will have less probability that crops that are food for everyone will be pollinated."
Monoculture affects honey production, as well as biodiversity. “As there are fewer plant species, there is less honey production. Soy is a crop that does not produce nectar to generate honey, ”Eguaras clarified. According to the biologist, in recent years there has been a significant decline in the amount of honey production throughout the Pampa Húmeda. "The beekeepers comment that while years ago a hive gave 40 kilos, today it gives them 20," said Eguaras.
With information from: