Farmers in southern Mexico rescue bees as drought grips region

By Thomson Reuters May 13, 2024 | 7:02 AM

SANTA ANA ZEGACHE, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexican farmer Floriberto Matias carefully picks up a honeycomb teeming with bees, as he and fellow activists in southern Mexico carry the delicate structures to a nearby apiary for the buzzing creatures.

In the town of Santa Ana Zegache, in the state of Oaxaca, Matias and other farmers are worried that an ongoing drought and the resulting loss of local flora could hurt the local bee population.

Such a turn would threaten the farmers themselves, said beekeeper Eloy Perez, who is part of the town’s rescue efforts.

“Without the work of pollination, which is what bees do, there would be no type of food production, from the smallest grass to the gigantic watermelons,” he said.

Scientists are warning of declining bee populations in different parts of the world, with vast implications for ecosystems and agricultural production.

Studies have shown that habitat loss, pesticides, monoculture agriculture, and the spread of pathogens are all risks to Mexico’s bee populations.

While there’s a need for more research into the effects of Mexico’s drought on bees, the farmers in Oaxaca see a clear connection.

Matias explained that a lack of water has led to the growth of fewer plants and flowers in the area, which in turn has decreased the available nectar and pollen for the bees to feast on.

The group transports the honeycombs to apiaries stocked with food and water in what farmer Bernardino Blas calls a labor of love.

“It’s our mission in this world: to rescue the bees,” he said.

(Reporting by Jose Cortes in Santa Ana Zegache, Mexico; Editing by Leslie Adler)