In Morocco, bees desert the world’s oldest beekeeping

At the foot of Inzerki’s monumental beekeeping in southwestern Morocco, silence prevails instead of the swarm of bees.

Silence equivalent to the environmental catastrophe caused by the disappearance of the colonies. According to experts, the phenomenon is seen nationally due to unusual drought and climate change.

At this time of year the place should be filled with the swarm of bees. Today they are dying at dizziness“, Beekeeper Brahim Chatoui lamented to AFP, inspecting his swarms under the scorching sun.

According to family tradition, his 90 hives disease – he lost 40 within two months – is housed in the beehive of Inzerki, in the center of the Organ Tree Biosphere Reserve, one of the country’s richest.

Other families have decided to abandon beekeeping due to lack of means.“, Mr. Chattoo testifies.

Considered “The world’s oldest and largest traditional collective beekeeping“According to experts, the site has not only been affected by the death of Hymnoptera since 1850.

Other Moroccan regions have been affected. “The losses are significant in the Beni Mellal-Kenifra region (center) alone, with an estimated 100,000 hives since August.“Mohamed Soudani of the Moroccan Beekeepers’ Union (UAM) was concerned.

According to official figures, 910,000 beekeepers in the country are operated by 36,000 beekeepers in 2019, down from 570,000 in 2009.

Unprecedented event

This year, the bee disappearance rate is 130 million dirhams (over 12 million euros) in aid to beekeepers – “Not used yet“, According to Mr. Saudani – and launched a comprehensive investigation into the disaster.

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The departure of these bees is an unprecedented event in Morocco“The National Office for Food Safety (ONSSA) is responsible for investigating climate change.Colony decline syndromeONSSA excludes disease hypothesis.

The bee science researcher, Anton Adam, supports him as an explanation for the worst drought in 40 years in this North African country.

Except, “Drought is now exacerbated by the vulnerability of bees to disease, human transformation, intensive farming practices and the country’s desire to increase its honey production.“, A scientist who studied the beekeeping environment in southwestern Morocco analyzes.

Honey production has increased by 69% in 10 years, from 4.7 tonnes in 2009 to nearly 8 tonnes in 2019, with a turnover of one billion dirhams (101 million euros), according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

To beekeeper Brahim Chattoui, “Drought is a normal cycle. Its seriousness is what worries me today“.

Tradition in danger

In insertion, the catastrophe is twofold: ecological but traditional.

From a distance, the beehive strikes its structure, which is simple and complex, divided into five levels of boxes of earth and wood. Inside the boxes are cylindrical hives made of woven reed wrapped in cow dung.

But it is enough to approach to see the level of ruin. Parts of the bee – recently listed as a national tradition – are crumbling and raising terrible fears.

Human geologist Hassan Penalayat says beekeeping degradation is the result of many upheavals in the region, especially the modernization and rural evacuation of the bee industry, but also global warming.

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In the past, 80 families deposited their bees there, and today there are only about twenty. “It is urgent to revive this exceptional tradition“, Pleads Mr. Benoit.

The situation is bad, but that does not mean I’m going to give up“Mr. Chatui, who formed an association to protect the beekeeping area along with other villagers, promises.

They struggled to add it to the Moroccan tradition. They planted aromatic herbs in order to combat the drought in the soil and are now trying to restructure beekeeping.

The purpose is not honey, but above all beekeeping is preserved and my bees survive while waiting for good days.“, The beekeeper believes.

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