Three years ago, Don Carlos Castro was given a beehive and he thought of putting it in a hotel for bees that he built himself. Then came the second, the third and the fourth, and now all are fully occupied. This resident of Valle Azul, in San Lorenzo de San Ramón, is very happy with his hotels and assures that the bees are self-sufficient, that is why he does not even need to attend to them.
Don Carlos Castro, a resident of San Ramón, has four hotels for bees on his property. In Costa Rica there are between 600 and 700 species of bees and a little more than 90% of these species are independent (solitary) bees, which is why, seeking to protect the vast majority that do not have a hive, the “Cantones Amigos de las Abejas” program was born.
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“If I had more fields inmy propety, I would put more, too bad. They do not cause problems and I take great care of them because they serve to pollinate. The family also enjoys them because they are not dangerous, it has really been a great idea to have set up these hotels”, comments Don Carlos.
“It would be ideal for everyone who has a free space to put one, two or as many as they can, these hotels help conserve the bees that live in the midst of so much danger. They even serve to de-stress one because seeing them is beautiful, time passes very quickly,” he explained.
Solitary bees do not produce honey or live in a hive, but they are extremely important because they are part of the pollination cycle of countless flowers, that is, they are essential for the conservation of nature and life.
Hotels for bees are generally wooden and bamboo structures that have spaces or cavities that many organisms use as shelter and mainly to build their nests. Some species nest on dry branches.
“Normally solitary bees live inside holes in trees, they are in charge of doing everything because they don’t have a big family. This means that only one, the female, is the one that does all the work: she collects pollen and nectar and takes it to the nest to provide food for her young, unlike bees that live in colonies, where there are several workers that collaborate”, explained Paul Hanson, an entomologist at the University of Costa Rica, who started with this idea before the pandemic.
The structure mimics that natural environment of the hole in the tree so that they nest, are protected, do not die before their time and can reproduce calmly, favoring repopulation.
Juan Bautista Alvarado, beekeeper and one of the leaders of the program, says that currently 60 of the 84 cantons have declared themselves “friends of the bees”, the goal is for all to do so. Even 10 municipalities have signed up to protect solitary bees by putting hotels in different parts of their communities.
What is the project looking for?
That local governments develop actions, projects and programs that favor all species of bees and seek the protection of them because they are all important. “We want the municipalities to support economic reactivation by supporting productive projects related to bees. Costa Rica has a lot of potential to develop apitourism, that is, tourism with bees”, explains don Juan Bautista.
What is expected with beekeeping is that national and foreign tourists visit the cantons and learn about the great variety of species of this important insect in the country. Just to clarify more, Tiquicia has 5% of all varieties of bees on the planet.
The cantons of San Ramón, San Carlos, Puriscal, San Mateo, Hojancha, Curridabat, Heredia, Montes de Oca, Grecia and Oreamuno are the ones that have already signed up.
Pablo Gómez is from Oreamuno of Cartago recalled that on February 21st they declared themselves friends of the bees. They have already set up eight hotels and, like all the others, they are fully occupied. For example, they placed one in Parque Central and another in the CCSS health center. “We are progressing quite well with the program, each hotel carries the signage. Our objective is to sensitize and educate the population,” he said.
Combating the crisis
“Cantons friends of bees” was born because Costa Rica is suffering one of the worst population crises of these insects in its history. According to studies, Don Juan Bautista tells us, about 250,000 die per day in our country due to intoxication. We are talking about honey bees, we do not have the data on solitary bees.
Many agrochemicals are used in the fields, farmers are not prepared or trained to use them and they have bad practices that are causing extermination at the national level.
“There has been no progress on the matter. We have asked the Executive Branch to ban some agrochemicals such as Fipronil and all those known as neonicotinoids (they are a family of insecticides that act on the central nervous system of insects and, with less toxicity, on vertebrates such as birds and mammals),” he explained. .
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