Bees are the most effective pollinators on planet Earth.

According to a recent report in the Yucatan Times, the Report of the Intergovernmental Scientific-Normative Platform on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services of the United Nations reports that many types of butterflies and bees are in the 40% of world invertebrate pollinators that are in danger of extinction.

Honey-producing bees only represent about 5% of all bee species, but they are the most efficient species of pollinators. When it comes to wild floral Phyto-species, 90% of them depend on animal pollination for survival, and 5% to 8% of world agricultural production depends on zoo pollination.

The recent publication, National Atlas of Bees and Beekeeping Derivatives, is a collaboration by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (Inegi) with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. It contains the available information on this matter as found in Mexico.

According to this Atlas, six of the nine families of bees that are classified in the world live in Mexico. Each colony of bees has up to 60,000 bee residents. In Mexico, bee production has an increasingly pollination-oriented objective rather than the more traditional focus on honey or wax production.

This 2:15-minute video by CGTN America looks at the Mexican grassroots movement to boost the bee population:



If these pollinator-bees were to disappear, 35% of the world food production would be compromised.

In such Mexican states as Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Coahuila, beehive production is predominantly directed at pollination, whereas honey production has fallen to second place in importance. Nationally, at least 135,586 hives were counted in 2008 for the pollination of products like cucumber, apple, melon, watermelon, avocado, pumpkin, safflower, strawberry, vegetables, and citrus fruits.

Historically, the Atlas recorded estimates that in 1961 there were 1.98 million hives in Mexico. The numbers reached a record high in 1983, with 2.69 million hives. After this, a decline in their production and maintenance began. In 2015 there were relevant recoveries, with 2,017 million hives, and in 2018, when the highest figure in 23 years was reached, there were 2.17 million hives.

Official data indicates that the states producing the highest tons of honey between 2015--2019 (the most recent years for which data is available) are Yucatán, with 45,127 tons; Campeche, with 32,904; Jalisco, with 27,266; Chiapas, 26,791; Veracruz, 24,057; Oaxaca, 21,527; Quintana Roo, 16,391; Puebla, 12,160; Guerrero, 10,366, and Michoacán, 9,604 tons of honey in these five years.

There are just over 43,000 beekeepers in Mexico. They are grouped into 508 livestock associations that specialize in beekeeping, along with another 110 livestock organizations of other types. The states with the greatest number are Yucatán with 80 associations; Chiapas, with 65; Campeche with 56; Veracruz with 44 and the state of Hidalgo with 43. It is not necessarily the states with the highest production that have the largest number of beekeeping producer associations.

According to the National Atlas of Bees and Apicultural Products, Mexico is the third largest world exporter of honey. Only China and Argentina surpass Mexico. Most Mexican honey is produced for export. Of the 57,999 tons that are produced on average per year, around 34,000 tons are exported, with an annual value of 2,500 million pesos. In addition to economic value, bee conservation is crucial to maintain the ecological balance in Mexico, and in the world.

Given Mexico’s enormous biodiversity, it is urgent that more resources are allocated to the conservation of bees, to the control of invasive species like African bees, and that a greater consumption of honey as a sweetener is promoted to strengthen the domestic consumption of this product. Its derivatives also have enormously important uses, so placing the focus on agriculture will always be positive for Mexico.