Costa Rican bees could disappear by 2035 if the excessive use of pesticides continues, is the warning issued by the National Chamber for the Promotion of Beekeeping. And it is that, around 250 thousand bees dedicated to production, that is to say to beekeeping, die per day, according to the records of the Chamber; while the numbers of deaths of native or wild bee species are unknown, but they consider that the mortality rate could be higher.
In the country, some 1,500 families are engaged in this business, with an annual production of 1,180 tons of honey thanks to the existence of more than 39,000 hives, according to the 2018-2021 Agricultural Statistics Bulletin. 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 Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer), since most of the production supplies national consumption.
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 for Municipal Development and Advisory (IFAM). “Our main objective is to apply the strategy in the rest of the country, working on various aspects; ensuring the survival of the species, mitigating the adverse effects of climate change and contributing to the agricultural products that are born in our canton”, said Erick Jiménez, mayor of Oreamuno.
Actions that allow the recovery of green areas to increase bee populations in the national territory, is what is established in the agreement between the institutions. Given the importance of bees for crops and food, Laura Bonilla, head of the MAG, confirmed the support for the initiative that will be developed in an articulated manner in the different cantons of the country. “The local governments that are interested will work in coordination with the Agricultural Extension Agencies to adapt the strategy according to the climate, species and topography conditions of the canton, to identify farms and places where to develop these pollination spaces“, said Bonilla.
Similarly, there is a formal commitment to address the issue of climate change, which affects both wild pollinators and the 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. “Bees of Costa Rica are being decimated their populations, by 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 protect them comprehensively, it is an important advance”, said Alvarado.
It must be remembered that the most important service that bees provide is pollination, the work of fertilizing plants and guaranteeing food security worldwide, which is why it is considered essential to educate the agricultural sector. “It is necessary to educate farmers and agricultural producers, so that their activities do not have a negative impact on the life of bees and their populations, it also involves restricting some agrochemical products, which are already prohibited in many parts of the world and that they kill 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 to be of public interest for each May 20th.