Less pollution, the bees’ solution: honey production up during lockdown
By Esther García Martín
Toledo, Spain, May 23 (efe-epa).- Busy bees are expected to produce a bumper harvest of honey during Spain’s lockdown due to low pollution and other favorable conditions.
Restrictions on movement and travel during the coronavirus pandemic has seen a significant drop in air pollution, which combined with a wet spring in the Mediterranean country has meant that the fields are bursting with flowers and wildlife.
Alberto Martín, a beekeeper in Toledo, central Spain, tells Efe that the boost for insects has been a positive side effect of the Covid-19 crisis.
Spain announced a state of alarm in March and there have been no airplanes and far fewer road vehicles since then.
This has had a positive effect on wildlife, which together with a wet and rainy spring, has caused “an explosion of life”, according to Martín.
“It is being a spectacular spring, lifelong beekeepers do not remember one like this,” he adds.
He says his hives are full and there has been such a huge bloom of flowers that honey production will be more than double that of last year.
His hives are so full that swarms have been leaving to find new places to live.
Martín says he and his partner have received a higher number of calls than usual from the fire brigade to remove clusters of bees from residential areas.
He describes the effect on the industrious insects as “spectacular” and a stark contrast to previous years which have seen a dwindling number of bees due to the climate crisis.
Martín says 75 percent of the plants we eat are pollinated by bees, which have also been suffering due to pollution and pesticides.
Low levels of air pollution during lockdown have seen a considerable increase in their population as well as an increase in the pollination of plants which leads to greater biodiversity and flora, he adds.
“There should be a hive in every town,” he continues.
Martín and his partner are planning to harvest their honey this weekend, which will be a bumper crop despite some cold and rainy weather in recent weeks, which can lead to the bees having to feed more on the sugary substance.
He says some large producers have brought the harvest forward and taken all the honey, but they prefer to wait and allow the bees to feed as this is a more sustainable practice.
“We do it with the future in mind,” he adds.
He and his partner have more than 200 hives between them around the towns of Villa del Prado and Navas del Rey in the Madrid region.
They launched their own honey company in February, just before the coronavirus outbreak hit the country.
It is a “natural and raw honey one hundred percent Spanish, untreated and without mixing,” Martín says.