SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Four beekeepers were arrested after demonstrating outside Chile’s presidential palace in Santiago on Monday, local officials said, with seven police officers stung during the protests.
Honey production has been affected by a long-term drought in Chile that has withered bee food sources such as flowers and crops. While drought is not uncommon in Chile, the current mega-drought https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/climate-change-fueling-warm-ocean-blob-causing-chile-megadrought-study-2021 -08-26 / #: ~: text = Research% 20published% 20Thursday% 20in% 20the, a% 20role% 2C% 20the% 20scientists% 20say has persisted since 2010 and climate change is at least partly to blame, say the scientists.
Beekeepers want government reform to improve honey prices or to provide subsidies to honey producers. They asked to meet with President Sebastian Pinera.
The beekeepers set up around sixty beehives, which contained around 10,000 bees, on the avenue in front of the palace.
One of the beekeepers, Jose Iturra, told local reporters that the drought in Colina commune, north of Santiago, was killing the local bee population.
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“The bees are dying,” Iturra said. “There would be no life if the bees died. This is what we wanted to highlight with this demonstration.”
A representative of the Santiago region’s agriculture ministry said the agency was also concerned about the effects of the drought on bees. The government provided aid for months to 20 communities facing severe water shortages, Omar Guzman, the regional agriculture secretary, told reporters.
Some passers-by were alarmed by the risk the bees posed to the public.
“It’s dangerous for people who are allergic (to bees) because they can cause death,” said one resident.
Seven national police officers, known as Carabiniers, were stung while trying to stop beekeepers and remove beehives from the streets, police officials said, and were taken to hospital.
Droughts and rising temperatures due to climate change have affected bee populations around the world. A 2020 study https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aax8591 published in the journal Science found that populations fell by about 50% in North America and 17% in Europe in one generation.
(Reporting by Reuters TV and Natalia Ramos, written by Kylie Madry; edited by Lisa Shumaker)
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