Andean beekeeper oversees thriving colony displaced by climate change
By Gina Baldivieso
San Pablo de Tiquina, Bolivia, Oct 16 (EFE).- Bees displaced from the Bolivian plains and valleys by climate change have found a home on the Andean Plateau or ‘Altiplano’, some near Lake Titicaca where they have thrived at more than 3,800 meters above sea level thanks to beekeeper Wilder Humérez.
The “Queen of the Lake” Beekeeping Center in the town of San Pablo de Tiquina, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, is home to at least one million bees under the care of Humérez, a local agricultural engineer.
Hmérez became interested in beekeeping when he finished his university studies and did his graduate thesis on the multiplication of queen bees, he tells Efe.
Since 2013, he has been producing and selling honey and its derivatives, and last year he decided to open the center to visitors “with the objective of making people aware” of “how important bees are in our environment.”
“We offer an in-depth explanation to visitors about the little bees, how they live inside the hive, how they are organized,” he explains.
The beekeeping center is about a 15-minute walk from the San Pablo de Tiquina plaza, in a spot surrounded by eucalyptus trees and other medicinal plants such as khoa, thola, or chilca, whose flowers nourish the bees.
According to Humérez, climate change and the excessive use of agrochemicals caused the bees to migrate from low, warm areas such as the east, the valleys or Los Yungas de La Paz and settle “naturally” in the Altiplano.
“They settled in the ravines of the highlands, where there are some holes that are the nests of Andean woodpeckers called yaca-yacas (…) It was a little strange at first to see them there,” he said.
To start his project, Humérez obtained a whole hive and began raising the bees in handmade boxes, but soon discovered that this was not ideal.