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Mexico has 1,900 species of bees and they’re all at risk: biologist

Insecticides and deforestation are the principal threats, says UNAM researcher

All of Mexico’s 1,900 different species of native bees are at risk of extinction, says Ricardo Ayala Barajas, a National Autonomous University researcher based at the Chamela Biology Station in Jalisco.

Most of Mexico’s bees do not sting and only 47 species produce honey, but all native species are endangered, explained the researcher on the United Nations World Bee Day, May 20. 

In an interview with the newspaper Milenio, Ayala said that around the world there are approximately 20,000 different named species of bees, and like in Mexico, every one is threatened by the use of insecticides and deforestation.

“A great effort is required to try to reduce the use of insecticides and make more careful use of natural resources, for the future of humanity and to care for the bees that help plants reproduce and generate fruits and seeds,” Ayala said. “We must appreciate and understand them more in order to prevent them from disappearing,” 

Bee conservation is on the rise in Mexico, just as it is globally.

In Guanajuato, people who kill bees or harm their habitat can be fined up to 8,000 pesos (US $350). In Yucatán, the government and communities are collaborating on a bee conservation project after significant bee populations have died, thought to be a result of crop dusting. A similar campaign is underway in Campeche.  

Beekeeping in Mexico has been around for some 3,000 years, according to earth.com, and the nation’s beekeepers watch over some 2 million hives with annual honey export profits totaling some US $56 million per year.

Source: Earth.com (en), Milenio (sp)

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