In addition to ensuring water, Peru’s commitment to Hass avocado crops involves paradigm changes that ensure conditions to promote honey bees as pollinators for sustainable agriculture.

The idea of a desert where leafy avocados grow in the sand sounds like a fiction. But in Peru it is already a reality.

At the beginning of 2019, a team from Bee Health 2020 LatAm visited one of the largest fruit plantations in the northern region of Lambayeque, confirming that planting in the desert does not only imply building large engineering works to bring water there and make sustainable use of it.

The immense extensions of avocado trees in the Olmos Valley represent an additional challenge. The characteristics of its flowers and its complex flowering make essential for insects to transport pollen between the flowers. And the honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the most important player in this pollination process.

This agricultural expansion, which aims to turn arid landscapes into an orchard, then means a paradigm shift for Peruvian beekeepers. How do you manage bees in large extensions of monocultures in the desert and provide a quality service?

If we talk about large quantities of hectares, we are talking about thousands of bees. In addition, there is a concern about what to do with all the hives after the pollination stage, considering the loading capacity of the territories to support a certain number of hives.

This was one of the aspects that were addressed by the director of Bee Health 2020 LatAm, Marnix Doorn, in the seminar “Pollination and Sustainable Agriculture”, organized last December 5th in Lima by CultiVida in collaboration with the National Service of Agrarian Health of Peru (Senasa).

On the occasion, he presented the experience of this and other projects related to agricultural landscape, biodiversity and pollination that Fraunhofer is carrying out in Chile.

Apicultural management

The health of honey bees as a key factor for effective pollination was one of the topics highlighted during the seminar, which was attended by nearly 50 participants, including farmers, beekeepers and authorities, among others.

Marnix Doorn shared the learning experience in the four countries participating in the Bee Health 2020 project: Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Costa Rica.

In an interesting conversation with the public, he talked about the importance of Integrated Management in Beekeeping, but at the same time the real implementation of good agricultural practices and integrated pest management as tools to establish more sustainable practices.

In addition, two essential pillars for sustainable beekeeping were discussed: the quality of the wax and the genetic material, which includes changing the queen bee every 18 months for younger specimens.

The conversation showed that there are several gaps in knowledge, both in agricultural and beekeeping management, and in public policies to regulate the sector. Therefore, this is a great opportunity to incorporate all the actors of the sector to the Bee Health project in 2020 and continue learning together!