ORLANDO, Florida — Beekeepers in Chile have struggled with a drought for 13 years. This has greatly impacted the growth of flowers that bees need to survive. When there are no flowers, there are no bees and no work for beekeepers in Chile. This has impacted Chile’s crops, its food industry and the lives of beekeepers. Chile has one of the largest food industries in the world and the loss of bees has greatly affected that. Chile also has some of the highest levels of inequality among the country’s rich and poor. The loss of food industry revenue has only made the levels of inequality worse since the government will not raise the price of honey.
Protesting Beekeepers in Chile
Beekeepers in Chile started protesting in January 2022. A 13-year drought caused the protests, in which beekeepers are calling on the government for action. Beekeepers have stated that bees are essential to life. During the protest, 60 beehives that contained 10,000 bees were in front of the presidential palace. The beekeepers are demanding a meeting with President Sebastian Pinera. Bees stung seven police officers and had to go to the hospital during the protest. Droughts and rising temperatures have led to a 50% decrease in bees in North America and a 17% decrease in Europe. During the protest, police arrested four beekeepers. Beekeepers in Chile have suffered from great financial loss during the drought. The protests are calling on the government to raise the price of honey and give beekeepers a grant. The Ministry of Agriculture stated that they have provided several communities with aid that are experiencing water shortages. However, beekeepers are receiving no aid from the government.
Inequality in Chile
Chile is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. However, the country is also one of the most unequal when it comes to the rich and poor. The richest people in Chile or the top 20% earn 10 times more than the poorest people in Chile in 2006. According to a 2017 report, the richest people in Chile were making 8.9 times more than the poorest people. Chile has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world. The levels of inequality will only get worse with beekeepers being unable to work and crops suffering due to the drought.
Bees and the Food Industry
The bees are not the only thing that has suffered due to the drought. Chilean crops ranging from avocados, raspberries and cherries to almonds and blueberries have also suffered. Chile has one of the largest food industries in the southern hemisphere with $34 billion in sales every year. Api-therapist Hernan Chavez grows avocados in Chile and rents 800 beehives every year to pollinate his crops. However, last year three-quarters of the bees died. A quick fix to this problem would be for beekeepers in Chile to leave water out for the bees since there is no natural water available. People similar to beekeeper Pablo Alvarez have begun nurturing a field of drought-resistant, native plants for bees.
– Sierrah Martin