Bee protection strategy would save Costa Rican honey production
Costa Rica’s bees could disappear by 2035 if excessive use of pesticides continues, is the warning issued by the National Chamber for the Promotion of Beekeeping. And it is that, approximately 250 thousand bees dedicated to production, that is to say to beekeeping, die per day, according to the registers of the Chamber; while the number of deaths of native or wild bee species is unknown, but they consider that the death rate could be higher.
In the country, some 1,500 families engage in this trade, with an annual production of 1,180 tons of honey thanks to the existence of more than 39,000 hives, according to the Bulletin of Agricultural Statistics 2018-2021. While the average value per international ton was around US$3.4 thousand for 2019, at the Central American level it reached an average of US$3.2 thousand; however, the value of Costa Rican exports reached US$28,000 according to the latest data from the promoter of foreign trade (Procomer), as most of the production feeds national consumption.
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Given this scenario, the Municipality of Oreamuno has carried out various actions to protect bees, including the creation of a national strategy, supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the Institute of Development and Municipal Council (IFAM). “Our main objective is to apply the strategy in the rest of the country, working on various aspects; ensure the survival of the species, mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and contribute to the agricultural products that are born in our canton,” said Erick Jiménez, Mayor of Oreamuno.
Actions that allow the recovery of green spaces to increase bee populations in the national territory, this is what is established in the agreement between the institutions. Given the importance of bees for crops and food, Laura Bonilla, head of MAG, confirmed support for the initiative which will be developed in an articulated manner in the different cantons of the country. “Interested local governments will work in coordination with agricultural extension agencies to adapt the strategy according to the climatic conditions, species and topography of the township, to identify farms and places where to develop these pollination spaces,” said Bonilla.
Likewise, there is a formal commitment to tackle the problem of climate change, which affects both wild pollinators and national beekeeping activity. The strategy is a “very good effort” but must be accompanied by specific and key actions, said Juan Bautista Alvarado, president of the National Chamber for the Promotion of Beekeeping, after being consulted by LA REPÚBLICA. “The bees of Costa Rica are decimating their populations, through a series of actions and threats, mainly an agricultural model incompatible with beekeeping production and the life of bees, hence the need to establish this type of strategies to comprehensively protect them, this is an important step,” Alvarado said.
It must be remembered that the most important service performed by bees is pollination, the work of fertilizing plants and guaranteeing food security in the world, which is why it is considered essential to educate the agricultural sector . “Farmers and agricultural producers must be made aware, so that their activities do not have a negative impact on the life of bees and their populations, this also involves the restriction of certain agrochemicals, which are already prohibited in many many parts of the world and that they are killing bees in Costa Rica,” added Alvarado.
In 2021, Costa Rica declared the activity of beekeeping and the celebration of the National Day of Bees and Other Pollinators of Public Interest for each May 20.