Costa Rica Beekeeping Is Underperforming
Costa Rica is known around the globe as a natural paradise and is viewed as a place that is very in tune with matters of ecology and the environment.
Unfortunately, beekeeping does not appear to be a priority to the powers that BEE despite the fact that it could bring much prosperity. Cattle farming and other agricultural activities are supported by the government, but sources say there has been little support to promote beekeeping even though Guanacaste province has plenty of land that is suitable for apiaries and is known to produce the best honey with a distinct flavor over and above the honey produced in other areas.
In fact, when it comes to honey production, Costa Rica is under-performing and under-producing at a rate so low it can’t even meet its own honey demands. This country is currently not producing enough honey to meet local needs with a honey production capacity of 5,000 tons per year, yet the production rate is between 600 and 1,000 tons per year.
This is a 6:34-minute video by James Wolfe called, Bees of Costa Rica, Part 1:
Juan Bautista Alvarado is president of the Cámara Nacional de Fomento de la Apicultura, or National Chamber for the Promotion of Beekeeping. He revealed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) has no national apiculture plan, no public policy, subsidies and other types of support to make it more efficient and viable or to promote beekeeping and honey production as an agricultural activity. Around 1,500 families currently engage in beekeeping in Costa Rica.
A bill was approved by legislators and the new law has just been approved that declares beekeeping is of public interest, and that the National Day of the Bees will be celebrated every May 20, which coincides with World Bee Day. This indicates the State will be committed to promote and encourage actions aimed at beekeeping entrepreneurship.
Alvarado does not see this bill as being enough, although it does set a foundation upon which to build and develop beekeeping in a more structured way. This also establishes a legal framework that deals with bee recovery when the Fire Department recovers a honeycomb or hive, that grants them power to deliver the recovered bees to MAG, which in turn donates them to beekeepers.
The National Animal Health Service is tasked with and responsible for recovering and managing hives and wild swarms. This enables the State to slow down the loss of bees due to the grave problems caused by pesticides up to now.
Reports state that bee populations in Costa Rica have been and continue to be decimated to the tune of up to 250,000 dead bees every day, due to the use of toxic agrochemicals.
This 2:02-minute video by KCTV5 News shows 12,000 bees were wiped out by a pesticide in the US, not Costa Rica.
From a pollination perspective, this equates to billions of flowers that won't be pollinated since the insects are not present when the flowers bloom. This ripples down the chain, affecting honey production, food production, and the entire rural economy as well as individual beekeeping families and farmers.
Beekeepers are calling for a ban on Fipronil, and insecticide, and Trifloxystrobin, a fungicide to stop the staggering losses and allow the bee population to recover.
Alvarado states that the country cannot afford to continue using chemicals that kill one of the most important creatures on the planet. What is needed is education and awareness from the school level up, training for farmers, and reforestation programs that focus on tree species supportive to beehives.
Costa Rica can become a powerhouse champion for bees, the local people and the environment.
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