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Bee-keeping in danger, warns El Hierro, in plea for united front 

PAGE 14 Bee-keeping in  danger

A plea has been made to all of the Canary Islands to keep honey production alive following the revelation that El Hierro’s industry has been hit by 60 per cent due to drought conditions.

The appeal was made by Cabildo president Casimiro Curbelo Curbelo who said a firm commitment must be made to the rural environment.

Beekeeping in La Gomera may not occupy a decisive place in the primary sector but it has become one of the most profitable products and better accepted by consumers.

However, because of drought conditions across the island, production this year has been hit by at least 50 per cent and this could well rise to 60 per cent.

“If the situation continues as it is at present, the industry will have to resort to extraordinary measures such as feeding bees with water and sugar and that is simply to keep them alive, because at present many of the hives are literally starving,” said a Cabildo spokesman.

Sr. Curbelo said everything possible should be done to keep the long tradition of bee keeping alive.

At this time in La Gomera there are 96 beekeepers who according to the last census made last year kept 2,214 beehives. However, this situation may now have changed dramatically.

The island has a group that brings together a large part of these producers called the Apicultural Association of La Gomera. Each year, the Cabildo provides grants to help pay for health expenses, participate and organise courses and hire a veterinarian.

The Cabildo says that at the moment, all of the honey produced in El Hierro is sold but the market is under-supplied.

Hermigua beekeeper Quico Herrera, who has about 130 hives, says the situation is “scary”.

“If it does not rain, there is no pollen, which is what the bees collect and it serves to put the eggs with which they make the nectar. When there is a good flowering a lot is produced and we end up selling all the production, ” he said.

He is having to resort to desperate measures such as reserving a can of honey to feed the hives he has in Benchijigua.