The Agriculture Secretariat (Sagarpa) has determined that partially unregulated use of agrochemical products is one of the causes of the disappearance of 53% of honey bees in the Comarca Lagunera region of the northern states of Coahuila and Durango earlier this year.
An official at Sagarpa said bees in the area were poisoned due to a lack of coordination between beekeepers and farmers. The former used pest control substances without the latter’s knowledge, putting the beehives at risk, explained Francisco Gurría Trviño.
“This phenomenon is not exclusive to La Laguna, but it became more serious there because of the lack of coordination. The warnings were not issued with enough time and the crop-dusting planes sprayed herbicides or pesticides on beehives that weren’t removed in time; in other instances, beehives were put back before the agrochemicals had had enough time to dissipate and stop representing a threat to the bees,” said Gurría.
“The same has happened in beehives in the states of Veracruz, Morelos and Hidalgo. This is why coordination is needed at the national level.”
In April, 110 beekeepers reported that the population of their hives had seen losses between 18% and 80%, and demanded 6.6 million pesos in compensation (about US $376,000) to replace close to 3,000 beehives.
Sagarpa has responded that it will only be able to offer 1.9 million pesos to 64 beekeepers.
The president of the Mexican Federation of Beekeepers said that asking beekeepers to physically remove their beehives before insecticides are sprayed over an area is “illogical.” Enrique Estrada de la Mora said the damage caused by the process is “very serious.”
Regarding the compensation package, he said “the amount won’t be enough to replace the beehives lost in that region, but we’ll have to make do. [The amount of the compensation] should be as much as possible to offset the effects . . . .”
Estrada said massive bee die-offs have been reported not only in La Laguna but throughout the country, a situation that should be addressed by raising awareness among federal authorities.