Stung by drought, Morocco’s bees face disaster

For the villagers of Inzerki, the collapse of hives is an ecological and economic disaster—but also a crisis for their unique heritage.

Morocco’s village of Inzerki is proud to claim it has the world’s oldest and largest collective beehive, but instead of buzzing with springtime activity, the colonies have collapsed amid crippling drought.

Beekeeper Brahim Chatoui says he has lost almost a third of his hives in just two months—and he is not alone.

“At this time of year, this area would normally be buzzing with bees,” said Chatoui, sweating under a blazing springtime sun. “Today, they’re dying at a terrifying rate.”

The North African kingdom has seen a dramatic spike in mass die-offs of the critical pollinators, a phenomenon called ““.

Worldwide, experts say such sudden mass deaths of bees are often linked to the destruction of nature and the rampant use of pesticides.

But authorities in Morocco say these collapses are caused by the worst drought to hit the country in 40 years, which has decimated the plants on which bees rely for food.

‘Unprecedented’ spike

The crisis is so acute that the government released 130 million dirhams ($13 million), to support beekeepers and investigate the cause of the bee deaths.

Morocco’s National Food Safety Office, which carried out the investigation, ruled out disease as a reason.

Instead, it blamed the “unprecedented” spike in hive collapses on an intense drought driven by .

Beekepers walk towards the Inzerki apiary; experts say it is the oldest traditional, collective beehive in the world, but today it is under threat amid a changing climate.

Inzerki’s unique collective beehive sits on a sunny hillside in the heart of the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO-protected 2.5-million-hectare region, some 415 kilometres (260 miles) southwest of the capital Rabat.

The complex is striking: A five-storeyed structure of wooden struts and dry mud stretch along a hillside, each compartment home to a cylindrical wicker , covered with a mix of earth and cow dung.

Experts say it is the oldest traditional, collective beehive in the world, dating back to 1850, but today it is under threat amid a changing climate.

“This year we hope for rain, because I have lost 40 hives so far,” Chataoui said.

Bee expert Antonin Adam, who has studied the insects in southwestern Morocco, also blamed the collapse on the drought.

But he added the problem may have been exacerbated by “the bees’ vulnerability to diseases, nomadic pastoral practices, and the country’s desire to increase its “.

That desire is clearly visible in agriculture ministry figures.

Bees at Inzerki in Morocco: the collective beehive sits on a sunny hillside in the heart of the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve.

Honey output has risen by 69 percent in a decade, from 4.7 tonnes in 2009 to almost eight tonnes in 2019, generating revenues of over 100 million euros.

But it is not only Inzerki’s apiary that is in trouble.

Mohamed Choudani, of the UAM beekeepers union, said the crisis was hitting bee populations across the country.

Last summer, Morocco’s 36,000 beekeepers were managing some 910,000 hives, up by 60 percent since 2009, according to official figures.

But Choudani said that since last August, 100,000 colonies had been lost in the central region of Beni Mellal-Khenifra alone.

Bees and other pollinators are vital for the reproduction of more than three-quarters of food crops and flowering plants.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) say bees play an “essential role… in keeping people and the planet healthy”, with the UN saying they “serve as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signalling the health of local ecosystems”.

Villagers have set up an association to restore the structure, as well as planting herbs for the bees that are better able to tolerate hot and arid conditions.

‘Exceptional legacy’

For the villagers of Inzerki, the collapse of hives is an ecological and economic disaster—but also a crisis for their unique heritage.

Chatoui, the beekeeper, said many Inzerki residents can’t afford to revive the hives they have lost.

“Some families have decided just to give up on beekeeping completely,” he said.

The hives at Inzerki are in trouble. Parts of the structure, recently listed as a national heritage site, are sagging.

Geographer Hassan Benalayat says the neglect is due to several factors on top of climate change, including the arrival of modern agriculture and a general exodus from the countryside.

Around 80 families in the village once kept bees. Today there are less than 20.

“It’s urgent to keep this exceptional legacy alive,” Benalayat said.

Chatoui and other villagers have set up an association to restore the structure, as well as planting herbs for the bees that are better able to tolerate hot and .

A beekeeper works at the Inzerki Apiary: a five-storeyed structure of wooden struts and dry mud stretching along a hillside.

“The situation is critical, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up,” Chatoui said.

“The aim isn’t to produce honey, but to protect the hives and make sure the bees survive until better days.”



© 2022 AFP

Citation:
Stung by drought, Morocco’s bees face disaster (2022, April 3)
retrieved 3 April 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-04-stung-drought-morocco-bees-disaster.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

% %item_read_more_button%% Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks — #metaverse #vr #ar #wordpress

Hexbyte Glen Cove Natural enemy of invasive, berry-eating fly found in U.S.

Hexbyte Glen Cove

A parasitoid wasp, Ganaspis brasiliensis, is a native of South Korea, but has been found in the U.S. for the first time. The wasp is pictured here laying its eggs into a drosophila larva on a blueberry. Credit: Kent Daane, UC Riverside

A parasitoid wasp that is the natural enemy of a fly known as the spotted-wing drosophila could be a good friend to growers. Washington State University researchers recently confirmed the discovery of the potentially beneficial wasp in the United States for the first time. 

The drosophila flies cause major damage to several Washington crops, especially sweet cherries and berries. The wasp, which lays its eggs in the flies, could be a means of controlling their spread.

“This is really a positive step for the cherry and berry industries,” said Elizabeth Beers, a professor in WSU’s Department of Entomology. “Hopefully this speeds up the timeline to get biological control of the spotted-wing drosophila.”

Beers and her team found the parasitoid, called Ganaspis brasiliensis, this September, in a wild blackberry patch less than a mile from the Canadian border near Lynden, Washington. The tiny wasp was found in western British Columbia in 2019. Paul Abram, a Canadian colleague, asked Beers to watch for wasps crossing the border and provided tips on the best places to find them.

Another parasitoid of the drosophila pest, Leptopilina japonica, was also found in British Columbia in 2019 and in Washington state in 2020 by Chris Looney of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. But the new parasitoid which is native to South Korea has a major benefit: specificity.

“The Ganaspis is very host-specific; it really likes to attack spotted-wing drosophila larvae and generally doesn’t bother other species,” said Beers, who is based at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.

The invasive drosophila fly hurts fruit because it doesn’t just nibble on the outside—its larvae burrow down into a raspberry or cherry and ruin the entire thing. That’s where the parasitoid comes into play.

Leptopilina japonica, left, is another parasitoid of the invasive and damaging spotted-wing drosophila, right. Credit: Warren Wong, Agassiz R&D Center.

Beers said it’s just possible to see the tiny adult parasitoids flying around drosophila-infested fruit. The female Ganaspis then lay their eggs inside the drosophila larvae. The little parasitoid develops inside the drosophila larva, killing it in the process.

“It’s a bit like the movie Alien,” Beers said. “It’s unpleasant to think about in sci-fi movie terms, but really effective for killing spotted-wing drosophila.”

The Ganaspis parasitoids were recently approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to be reared and distributed around the U.S. as a biocontrol.

To do that, an entomologist went to the native home of spotted-wing drosophila, found the Ganaspis, and brough back several samples. After significant research in quarantine, it was found to be safe to spread here to fight drosophila.

During that process, the Ganaspis found its own way to North America and is spreading without help. Once an invasive species is found living in a state, the USDA does not regulate it being distributed around that state, making the process easier.

“It’s kind of the best of both worlds,” Beers said. “It’s great that we have a lot of research showing that Ganaspis is very host-specific and safe to spread around. But there are also benefits to it being found here in nature.”

This is the third exotic species that Beers and her lab has found in the last few years. They found a parasitoid of the apple mealy bug, a pest for the apple industry, and the Samurai wasp.

“I never anticipated this, it’s not the main focus of our lab,” Beers said. “We’ve just kind of stumbled across them as part of our research on various pests.”



Citation:
Natural enemy of invasive, berry-eating fly found in U.S. (2021, November 18)
retrieved 18 November 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-natural-enemy-invasive-berry-eating.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —