Malaga Province Launches Ambitious Plan to Boost Spain’s Declining Bee Population by bringing in 47 Million Iberian Bees
The first hives of the Smart Green Bees project (promoted by the technology company LG) have been placed on a farm in the Los Montes natural park, which have been brought in to help this demographic recovery of the Spanish bee.
Repopulating the Peninsula with 47 million specimens of Apis mellifera iberiensis, better known as the Iberian bee, is the objective of a project that has been launched in Spain to reverse the disappearing trend of this native breed of bees which is necessary for the preservation of ecosystems.
This is the Smart Green Bees project, which has been promoted by the technology company LG with the collaboration of the El Rincón de la Abeja association, technical partner of the initiative, and artisan beekeepers from the regions of Malaga, Valencia or Barcelona in Spain.
The Iberian bee
The Iberian, or Spanish, bee, is the only species native to the Peninsula, but its population is shrinking rapidly due to factors such as drought, diseases that affect the species and the lack of profitability in the ‘cottage industry’ for beekeepers. This is due to the fact that the breed is not the most efficient for honey production.
The initiative aims to expand the Apis mellifera iberiensis throughout Spain with up to 47 million new bees within two years, “one for each inhabitant,” explains Paola Vecino, president of the El Rincón de la Abeja association.
“We are choosing enclaves that are conducive to this expansion of swarms, where sustainable beekeeping can be carried out and this reverts to a benefit for the ecosystem,” she says, clad in a beekeeper’s suit from a farm in the Montes de Málaga Natural Park, where they have placed the first hives to help this demographic recovery of the Iberian bee.
A newly created hive in its initial phase can house between 5,000 and 6,000 bees, although this figure can reach 60,000 after a few months. This expansion usually occurs between spring and summer.
According to LG, the fifteen hives installed in Malaga already contain some 15,000 bees each and this figure will grow in the coming month’s thanks to the floral richness of the environment and the “privileged climate” of the province, “whose 300 sunny days a year allow efficient and non-intrusive care”.
Why the bee population is in decline
Years of research determined the decline was likely attributable to a wide range of stressors such as pests, diseases, pesticides, pollutants/toxins, nutritional deficits, habitat loss, effects of climate variability, agricultural production intensification, reduced species or genetic diversity, and pollinator or crop management practices.
Why do we need bees?
Bees are essential to humans for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is their role as pollinators. Bees are responsible for pollinating many of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that make up a large part of the human diet, including apples, berries, cucumbers, almonds, and many more.
In fact, it is estimated that bees are responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world’s food crops, making them crucial to global food security. Without bees, many of these crops would be unable to produce fruit, which could lead to food shortages and increased prices for many different types of food.
In addition to their role as pollinators, bees also help to maintain biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. They play a crucial role in the reproduction of many plant species, which in turn provide habitat and food for other wildlife.
Overall, bees are an essential part of our natural environment and our food systems, and their decline would have significant impacts on human well-being and the health of our planet.