Yucatecan beekeepers are looking for new ways to maintain production as they face perhaps their biggest set of crises in memory.
Boom times for honey from Yucatan, roughly from 2008 to 2012, are over. At the time, Yucatan was first in Mexico in both honey production and exports.
A major customers was on the other side of the Atlantic. A reduction in exports of Yucatan honey to the European Union is one such problem as Chinese sugar-beet honey floods the market.
Now, the state’s honey producers say they face one of the most complicated times in the last 50 years.
Marked deforestation, deadly pesticides from neighboring farms, and pests such as varroa mites all weigh on the beekeepers.
In its best years, Yucatan produced up to 14,000 tons of honey annually. This year, its potential is half that amount.
One beekeeper, Nelly Ortiz Vázquez, says education is key to gain support from the public..
Ortiz Vázquez promotes bee culture with tours of her hives on a property on the San Ignacio Tesip road, south of Merida. Called Abeja Planet (Bee Planet), the tour is for both students and families.
“We intend to make people aware of what beekeeping is and what it represents and also the serious problem of deforestation in Yucatan, the lack of plants that offer nectar for our bees,” she said.
Ortiz Vázquez said that in the last 10 years the state has suffered severe deforestation.
“In Mérida, for example, although there is talk of planting trees and reforesting … in rural areas, fires, indiscriminate logging and neglect have caused even traditional plants to die,” she said.