Beekeeping

Toxic pesticides affect beekeeping in rural Idlib

Enab Baladi – Northern Idlib countryside

Awad al-Dabal, 55, tends to the remaining beehives, which he has assigned a place away from any potential danger on the roof of his house in the town of Harbanoush, in the northern Idlib countryside .

Al-Dabal regularly puts water in front of the floor of the hive so that the high temperatures do not cause the death of his 40 hives, to avoid what happened with the other hives that were killed by the insecticides.

In early July, farmers sprayed large tracts of farmland in rural Idlib with insecticides to control insects as part of the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) incentive measures operating in Idlib to cultivate more crops.

“More than 30 hives died as a result of insecticide spraying, at a time when there was no compensation for this loss, despite filing several complaints in this regard,” al-Dabal said. Enab Baladi.

Among the most important problems that beekeepers face in the process of preserving the life of their bees are the lack of diversity and density of pastures and the lack of suitable environmental and climatic conditions.

In addition to the high cost of the tools needed for beekeeping, which results in the lack of supply in local markets and the high prices of honey during the production season.

Beekeepers without tools

Beekeepers in the northern countryside of Idlib suffer from not finding a suitable place for permanent and stable bee hives; al-Dabal hid his hives on the roof of his house when he heard reports from farmers that there was a campaign to spray new insecticides in the coming period for fear of the hives dying .

“It always happens again, and we don’t have a solution. We ask for a place to be assigned to us, but there is no response,” al-Dabal said.

The suffering of beekeepers in the region is not limited to having the right place for their activity, but also some of them do not have the tools and equipment necessary for beekeeping to protect themselves from direct stings, sorting tools bees, even feeding tools. In the periods between production seasons, the bees can be guarded by feeding them sugary liquids placed in jars containing wooden sticks on which the bees climb.

During production seasons, especially during the summer, it is better to provide a small iron basin of water for the bees and to put burlap bags in it to prevent the bees from drowning, according to beekeepers. , but all of these tools are unwieldy. supply in the northern region.

suffer alone

Ramadan Abu Ahmed, 45, moved beehives from Binnish town in the eastern countryside of Idlib to his tent in Maarbouna camp in the northern countryside of Idlib after most of his bees died due to the farmers who sprayed pesticides without any knowledge or understanding of the extent of the danger to his beekeeping and honey production project.

“The beekeeper suffers alone, and no one cares about his interests since he has to solve his problems by himself, which has caused many beekeepers to abandon their profession after all their hives have died and their dwellings have turned into wooden crates only because of the spreadings”. pesticides without any awareness,” Abu Ahmed said. Enab Baladiwho considers the beekeeping project as the most important economic resource through which he aspires to improve his family’s livelihood.

Beekeepers in Idlib and its countryside frequently raise the idea of ​​creating a beekeepers’ union to reduce the difficulties they face in practicing their profession in the province, but each time these demands reach an impasse, they do not agree on an opinion despite the difficulties and obstacles they face in the same profession.

The profession of beekeeping requires finding suitable pastures for the bees to collect nectar from the flowers, but the lack of pastures has caused disputes between the beekeepers, and some of them have accused others of theft, while that others have claimed the right to evict those who encroach upon their pastures.

Farmers also affected

The damage caused by insecticides varies depending on the time of spraying, according to what breeder Radwan al-Hassan, 42, thinks in his response to Enab Baladi‘s question about the loss rate of beekeepers.

Al-Hassan added that when the farmer sprays his land in the morning, it is at the beginning of the spread of the bees among the nectar plants, and “it also harms the farmer’s harvest, because it causes death. of the bee which contributes to the transfer of pollen from one flower to another, and pollinates the crop for free.

Al-Hassan calls on farmers to postpone spraying pesticides until evening, when the bees return to their hives and harmful insects come out of the crops, causing their death, and the effectiveness of the toxic pesticide decreases until the next day. Morning.

The suffering of insecticide spraying faced by beekeepers is repeated every year, as about a thousand hives are taken out of service after the death of bees in the countryside of Idlib, says breeder al-Hassan, noting the danger that the bees will transfer poison if they do not die from the nectar and pollen that have been exposed to the pesticide inside the hive, resulting in the death of the beekeepers and the possibility of the death of the bee queen, in addition to the possibility of contamination of the honey with poison.

In 2021, al-Hassan and his fellow beekeepers met with the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Salvation Government regarding the danger of pesticides and the problems faced by bees, in particular the issue of imported pesticides entering the northern regions. from Syria without surveillance and whose effectiveness lasts more than ten days, from the date of their spraying where dozens of beekeepers lose their whole bees.

Nevertheless, al-Hassan said that the issues discussed at this meeting have not yet been resolved.

Need for awareness

The responsibility to address these issues rests with the Salvation Government’s Department of Agriculture, particularly the Department of Agricultural Affairs and Plant Protection, to educate and support beekeepers and help them form organized groups that tackle the problem of hives dying from pesticides.

In addition to reducing burdens and expenses, increasing productivity and establishing nature reserves in which trees and nectar plants grow.

Head of Agricultural Affairs and Plant Protection Department at Salvation Government Agriculture Ministry Abdul Latif Ghazal says insecticides used are highly effective and owners of agricultural pharmacies should not give such pesticides to farmers, except when necessary. .

Ghazal added to Enab Baladi that the reason for the lack of pastures in summer and autumn in the governorate of Idlib and its countryside is “the small agricultural lands in the liberated (opposition) areas and because the pastures are few, which causes death many bees”.

Solutions

The Salvation Government Ministry of Agriculture plans to launch an awareness campaign for farmers to reduce pesticide spraying, and to spray in the evening with pesticides which have low effect on bees,” Ghazal said.

These include low-impact pesticides, which do their job and are safe for bees, and “there is no program to support beekeepers”, as the programs are focused on supporting strategic crops such as wheat and supporting livestock with fodder.

“If a body representing beekeepers as a union or association is formed so that it becomes possible to prepare a statistic for the number of beekeepers and hives, then a support or assistance program for beekeepers can be established” , explains Ghazal.

Honey production projects in Idlib and its countryside lack proper statistics because they are affected every year by climate changes, and it is necessary to have a representative of beekeepers in the region, through which this sector can be developed and supported, the head of factory protection in the Ministry of Agriculture has ended.