bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Mexico pays a price for its honey production

One man, one pig, two turkeys and 11 hens died from bee stings in Mexico one day in February when a bee colony in a tree was disturbed by high winds, reports the Washington Post (free web subscription service — but it is an article full of interesting statistics).

Last year, 17 Mexicans were killed by bee stings (the biggest recorded annual total is 60) — mostly in early spring and mostly in the Yucatan, the centre of Mexico's thriving beekeeping industry.
... the attacks and deaths are seen as nothing more than an occupational hazard, the way miners or fishermen are accustomed to losing friends to the perils of their business.

...In response to the threat from bees, every Mexican state has a team of paramedics, firefighters and health officials who are trained to respond to bee attacks. Fire departments across the country are flooded with bee-related calls this time of year. In Mexico City, a metropolitan area of 20 million people, some fire stations spend at least half their time destroying beehives, often located in streetlights in busy neighborhoods.
The Washington Post
Mexico currently ranks as the fourth largest honey producer in the world with two million commercial hives contributing to a $125 million a year industry. Most of Mexico's bees are of the Africanized variety.


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