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

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Stung by drought, Morocco’s bees face disaster (2022, April 3)
retrieved 3 April 2022
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Hexbyte Glen Cove With no respite from drought, officials call upon Californians to conserve water

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The start of this year has been the driest in California’s history. With the severe drought now in a third year, the state faces depleted reservoirs, a meager snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and a worsening water shortage on the Colorado River.

Under sunny blue skies in Sacramento, where it hasn’t rained in two months, officials stood Thursday in front of a mulch-covered garden and appealed for Californians to save .

“We’re asking all Californians to step up,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. That means reducing immediately and also taking steps that will help conserve in the long run, he said, such as replacing grass with drought-tolerant plants, or switching to water-saving appliances.

“Our drought conditions are becoming more threatening with climate change,” Crowfoot said. Warmer winters are reducing the snowpack that accumulates in the Sierra Nevada, he said, and hotter temperatures in the spring and summer “mean that more of that snow absorbs into very dry soils or evaporates into the air.”

In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for Californians to voluntarily reduce by 15%. Most areas of the state have fallen far short of that target.

The latest conservation figures for cities and towns across the state through December showed cumulative water savings of 7.5% compared with a year ago, and that’s “not going to be enough” in many communities, said Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.

The levels of many major reservoirs in California, from Lake Oroville to the San Luis Reservoir, remain far below average. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, which feeds the state’s reservoirs, now stands at just 60% of average for this time of year.

Large water suppliers throughout the state have responded with drought measures including that encourage conservation.

The state’s Save Our Water campaign, together with the State Water Contractors, released an animated video to spread the message. With the handwritten slogan “Doing your part” on a whiteboard, the video shares water-saving tips, such as installing drip irrigation systems, using a smart irrigation controller and taking five-minute showers.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has announced it is spending an additional $10.5 million to expand its advertising campaign calling for the public to conserve.

“Our reservoirs continue to decline, and so we are really in a critical time to move on our efforts to fortify our water supply,” Adel Hagekhalil, MWD’s general manager, told the district’s board this week.

In announcing the expanded advertising campaign, Hagekhalil said the less water Southern California uses now, “the longer we can stretch these stored supplies into the summer and fall, and next year, if needed.”

During the last drought, which lasted from 2012 to 2016, the state imposed mandatory conservation measures and required local agencies to meet water-saving targets. The conservation gains made then have had a lasting effect in reducing residential water use.

State officials haven’t yet turned to mandatory restrictions during the current drought, which began in 2020. They have instead focused so far on strengthening requirements for local water agencies to create more comprehensive contingency plans for water shortages.

“Right now, we’re working with our local water agencies and really being very clear about our expectation that they’re stepping up and they’re taking action through those water shortage contingency plans, which may involve mandatory restrictions on a local or regional basis,” Crowfoot said.

Heather Cooley, a water researcher at the Pacific Institute, said she thinks California needs to strengthen its response and shift to mandatory restrictions.

“Given how severe the drought is and how low our reservoirs are, and the low snowpack, I’m not sure 15% is enough. We’re going to have to do more,” Cooley said.

Cooley said the last drought showed that conservation mandates work. California has over the last several years developed better data on water use and efficiency, she said, which can be used to create more customized mandates that reflect the local as well as past progress on conservation.

Southern California relies on imported water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the Colorado River, both of which have been severely affected by the drought.

The Colorado River supplies water for approximately 40 million people and vast farmlands from Wyoming to Mexico. The river has long been overallocated, and the levels of its reservoirs have declined dramatically during the stretch of hot, dry years since 2000.

Scientists have found that the extreme dryness across the West, from Montana to northern Mexico, is now the driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years, a megadrought that research shows is being worsened by humanity’s heating of the planet.

Water cutbacks have already taken effect for Arizona and Nevada, and officials representing California agencies recently joined those two states in an agreement to take less from the river.

The declines on the river have worsened during the dry winter. Lake Powell, one of the river’s two major reservoirs, has declined to about 25% of full capacity.

Water managers with the federal Bureau of Reclamation said this month that the on the Arizona-Utah border will soon decline below a key threshold of 3,525 feet elevation. Officials had agreed on that threshold in 2019 because if the reservoir declines to 3,490 feet, the water would reach “minimum power pool,” the lowest point at which Glen Canyon Dam can generate hydropower.

There is now a 1 in 4 chance that could happen in 2023 or 2024, according to the latest projections from the federal government.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove A sign the drought is easing: California officials to ship more water to farms, cities

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State officials said Thursday they will increase deliveries to farms and cities that belong to the State Water Project—a sign that this winter’s rain and snow has eased drought conditions in California.

The Department of Water Resources said farm and municipal districts can expect to receive 15% of requested supplies this year from the state project, an elaborate network of dams and canals.

The announcement came weeks after the department announced an initial allocation of zero, saying it would only deliver enough water to meet “critical health and safety needs” to a handful of urban districts such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. It marked the first time in the State Water Project’s history that the initial allocation was zero.

December’s storms made the difference. San Luis Reservoir in Merced County, which plays a key role in feeding the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, has added 310,000 acre-feet of water since Dec. 1. An acre-foot is 326,000 gallons.

Still, the reservoir is at just 55% of average for mid-January.

Karla Nemeth, director of the Department of Water Resources, said “severe drought is not over. Dry conditions have already returned in January. Californians must continue to conserve as the state plans for a third dry year.”

Earlier this month the State Water Resources Control Board approved new regulations that could result in $500 fines for Californians who over-water their lawns, wash their cars without a shutoff nozzle or engage in other wasteful practices.

State officials have warned that if dry conditions persist this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration would likely impose broader mandatory conservation rules on urban Californians. During the last drought, then-Gov. Jerry Brown ordered urban customers to reduce usage by 25%.

The State Water Project delivered just a 5% allocation for all of 2021.

The other big water provider in California, the federal government’s Central Valley Project, has yet to announce an initial allocation for this year.



©2022 The Sacramento Bee.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation:
A sign the drought is easing: California officials to ship more water to farms, cities (2022, January 21)
retrieved 23 January 2022
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Amid drought, Colorado rafters flock to oases while they can thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Amid drought, Colorado rafters flock to oases while they can

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Kyle Lester, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, teaches a group basic safety measures and rowing techniques before floating down the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert

Across Colorado, parched rivers are at some of their lowest levels on record. But on one still spared by the drought, boisterous children and guides bob along as water splashes into their blue inflatable rafts.

The summer activity on the Cache La Poudre River in northeastern Colorado reflects the precarious situations of rivers and lakes in dry regions, with rafters and boaters eager to enjoy the remaining oases while they can and businesses hoping to eke out a season threatened by drought.

“Any time that you make your living off of Mother Nature, you definitely partner with a pretty turbulent environment,” said Kyle Johnson, whose whitewater rafting company, Rocky Mountain Adventures, has been fully booked seven days a week.

Johnson said the booming demand on the river is a “redemption” from the last rafting season, which was cut short by the pandemic and wildfires. But the healthy water levels on the river might not last much longer. Johnson notes the drought could end this season prematurely as well.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” said Savannah House, a Fort Collins resident who was recently rafting on the Poudre, noting the in other parts of the state.

For years, those who rely on rivers and streams for their livelihoods have struggled with the hotter, drier weather brought on by .

Dylan Dems, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, takes a group down a whitewater section of the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. Across Colorado, parched lakes and rivers are at some of their lowest levels on record. But on one still spared by the drought, boisterous children bob along with guides as water splashes into their blue inflatable rafts. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert

The rising temperatures have meant dwindling and less reliable amounts of the mountain snowpack that normally drains from high altitudes to replenish water levels. What does trickle down is more likely to get absorbed by the dry, thirsty ground before it reaches the river—a predicament many places were already experiencing this year.

“We really are seeing the impact of the dry conditions last year impacting all of our watersheds and ,” said Karl Wetlaufer, a hydrologist for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Now the gripping the region is deepening worries, affecting even simple recreational activities once taken for granted.

The Yampa River in northwest Colorado is experiencing some of the lowest stream flows on record due to below average snowpack, increasingly dry soil, and the spring’s hot, dry weather. In Steamboat Springs, a recreational hub along the river, rafting and kayaking ended a few weeks ago, and fishing and tubing could soon be over too if the water dips much lower.

  • Kevin Perez, far left, takes a rookie guide training boat down the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Perez is a guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Lauren Taylor, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, gives a safety talk to a group ready to run the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • A group of young rafters boards a bus to run the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Lauren Taylor, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, gives a safety talk to a group ready to run the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Kevin Perez, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, pulls an inflatable boat out of the water after taking a group down the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Darien Ellis with Rocky Mountain Adventures carries paddles after running a group down a section of the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Kevin Perez, a rafting guide for Rocky Mountain Adventures, gets ready to take a group down the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Kyle Johnson, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Adventures, stands on the banks of the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. Johnson said the booming demand on the river is a “redemption” from the last rafting season, which was delayed by the pandemic then cut short by wildfires. But the healthy water levels might not last much longer. Johnson notes the drought could end this season prematurely. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert
  • Darien Ellis with Rocky Mountain Adventures gathers gear before running the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The river in northern Colorado is flowing well compared to waterways in the western part of the state, much of which is experiencing extreme drought.Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Peipert

“We have known since 2002, when this mega-drought started, that our climate has shifted to a hotter and drier future. And the future is now,” said Kent Vertrees of Friends of the Yampa. The conservation group has received funding from the Walton Family Foundation, which also supports The Associated Press’ coverage of water and environmental policy.

To alleviate conditions, and water agencies created a pathway to release water from an upstream reservoir. That helped “keep the fish wet, cool the river down and increase the oxygen levels in the river,” Vertrees said.

Cottonwood trees have also been planted to shade the river and cool it down when the water is running low. It’s unclear how much such measures will help maintain water levels.



© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation:
Amid drought, Colorado rafters flock to oases while they can (2021, July 5)
retrieved 6 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-drought-colorado-rafters-flock-oases.html

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part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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