Yucatán businessman kills thousands of bees with pesticide

The affected beekeepers tried to file a lawsuit, but the local authority didn't allow it, because the death of bees, in the opinion of a public prosecutor, isn't a crime
Yucatán businessman kills thousands of bees with pesticide
Several families have lost millions in products – Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AP
20/08/2018
12:55
Adriana Varillas / corresponsal
Cancún, Q. Roo
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The use of a highly toxic chemical, banned in other countries, but allowed in Mexico, has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of bees, in 19 apiaries inside Ejido Candelaria, in the José María Morelos municipality, in Quintana Roo.

The pesticide was identified as Fipronil, known as Regenet 4 SC Insecticide, which is highly toxic for bees. It was used by a business, Pablo Mendoza, from Yucatán, to fumigate land where he will grow Habanero chili, said Wilson Ayala Mex, one of the affected beekeepers.

The chemical affected a radius of approximately 4 kilometers, which damaged around 300 hives and killed thousands of Apis Meliphera bees.

The National Citizen Council for the Sustainable Silviculture in the Yucatán Peninsula (CCMSS-PY), with the help of the beekeepers, quantified the damages in MXN $2,300,000, due to the loss of bees, wax, and honey.

Ayala Mex explained that even if they had small honey reserves, the closest harvest, between October and November, was lost, which represents a “devastating economic loss”, as the Mayan families lost their incomes.

The Mayan beekeeper detailed that from August 8, other producers began to notice the deaths of bees, that increased over the days.

Aurora Xolalpa, a researcher from the Intercultural Mayan University in Quintana Roo (UIMQROO), collected several samples, to study them and monitor the effects the chemical will have on other pollinators, the fauna and flora and even human health, as well as calculate how long will the chemical residues will stay in the ecosystem.

Last Sunday, the affected beekeepers tried to file a lawsuit, but the local authority didn't allow it, because the death of bees, in the opinion of a public prosecutor, isn't a crime and because the institution lacks the authority, said Wilson.

Nevertheless, the Civil Council emphasized that the State's Criminal Code, in its article 147, fraction II, says that those who “destroy hives, honey, bees, honeycombs, and apiculture products”, are committing a crime in regards to Apiculture. After arguing, the beekeepers made it possible to file the lawsuit, which opens an investigation process.

Additional impact

Xolalpa Aroche is a professor and full-time researcher at the UIMQROO, she's a bee expert and leads the program in Agro-Ecological Production Systems Engineering (ISPA) and she's part of the Sustainable Development academic body, in apiculture projects.

Some of the young beekeepers asked her help to take honey, wax, and bee samples in the affected apiaries.

She says that the product label indicates it can harm insects and bees and that this chemical is banned in other countries, but not in Mexico.

She indicated that the results will be available next Monday and that there is a lot of worry about the economic impact for the families that make an income from apiaries, as well as the negative impact in the flora and fauna in the area because it might affect other pollinators.

She said that what they found was “dead bees; 14 affected producers; the future harvest was lost. In many cases, there are total losses and that is worrisome, as they have to start over again. To produce, they have to wait for a year, until the nucleolus is strong enough and until the strong colonies' arrival in this area”.
 

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