Is the worst over in China? While the coronavirus threat is far from eradicated, the country’s curve is finally headed in the right direction. While things are far from normal, the country is getting back to its routine. Stores are opening, travel restrictions are being removed, and people are starting to walk the streets again. This, of course, means beekeepers can get back to work too.
The Danger for Bees
In terms of timing for bees, this health crisis could not have come at a worse time. Since professional beekeepers harvest their honey, there is very little in the hive to get the bees through the winter. As such, the bees largely depend on their beekeepers to provide nourishment. The people of China have been on lockdown for weeks, so many beekeepers were unable to replenish the food supply for their bees.
With some bees having gone for weeks now, the outlook for the industry in the country was grim, as many beekeepers expected to return to hives that were loaded with dead bees. One local beekeeper who could not get to his hives was delighted when he finally received a travel pass. As it turned out, it was bad, but not nearly as bad as suspected. He estimated he lost about 10 percent of his bees, equivalent to about $4,300 in our currency. Oddly enough, the loss was not for lack of food, but because he was unable to remove his bees from an area that got sprayed with pesticides during the crisis.
Over the next few weeks and months, we will have a far better idea of how much this health crisis has impacted the industry. Remember, even though China’s curve is on the downswing, most of Europe and the UK are all still on the upturn, as is the United States. The benefit for beekeepers in these locations, though, is that for the most part, the lockdown was not as severe as what took place in China, at least not yet.
Additionally, a lot of the honey bees in this country that are managed have already been put to work in California in the almond groves. The almond season started several weeks ago and California growers had more or less sent out a distress signal for help this season, since local beekeepers were unlikely to meet the demand. That being the case, while the bees’ owners were buying toilet paper, the bees were already hard at work, so the impact here will likely be far less than other parts of the world.
Source: South China Morning Post