After the Successful Transition, how are the Bee Farmers Now? (II)
2020/4/23 17:49:00 本站

Others are responsible for information collection and publicity and reflect the situation of bee farmers to CBCGDF. Volunteers also posted the help to bee farmers on Weibo, so that more people can see it, and more people can contact CBCGDF for help.


Volunteers are also responsible for focusing on local policies, as each has a different policy. “CBCGDF sent a letter to the anti-epidemic headquarters of Hubei Province before, which made them attach great attention to the transfer of bee farmers. Then they issued relevant documents, which provided a green channel for bee farmers. However, when we contacted the local government, many people didn’t know the specific situation about the document. In particular, some town governments need us to explain the contents of the documents to them, and then the bee farmers could get permission to go back.”


For example, a bee farmer called Mr. Qin should return to Hubei from Luoping, Yunnan Province. His health certificate has been prepared, and the village branch in Hubei agreed to let him go back. However, as he was on the way to the highway, he received a call saying that there were new regulations and he could not go back. At that time, he couldn’t return to Yunnan, because the rape flowers in Yunnan had been treated with pesticides, and the number was small. Bees were either poisoned or depended on white sugar for their livelihood, resulting in a large number of bee deaths. Cao Yu helped him get in touch with the local department, did a lot of communication and coordination works, and finally let him go home.


The pesticide is indeed one of the important factors that caused the huge loss of the difficulty of the transferring, and Wu Haijian also suffered from it. The reason why Yunnan usually uses pesticides at this time is that when the temperature rises at the end of February, rape flowers will begin to grow aphids. Therefore, bee farmers must leave Yunnan before the aphids are born. This time, in a few days in Yunnan, Wu Haijian’s bees were poisoned and died. “The loss is beyond measure. If I keep staying, my bees will be gone. I have more than 130 cases of bees, and I didn’t make a cent this time. The labor force of bees who come home to collect rape flower’s honey has also lost a lot, and the first generation of bees will take more than 20 days to rebirth”, Wu Haijian was very helpless.


Another factor that will have a great impact on the income of bee farmers in that year is the weather. If the flowering situation of one or two honey sources is not ideal, the bee farmers must feed the bees with white sugar. However, now, there are too many additives in white sugar. Bees who eat white sugar for a long time will suffer from malnutrition and poor health.


Deng Lin, a beekeeper from Yibin, Sichuan Province, also described the hardships of beekeeping. He studied beekeeping in 2010 and started beekeeping in 2011. He took a family of five, his parents, his wife, and his son to travel all over the country. Compared with Wu Haijian, Deng Lin had a busier year. He has only one month to rest at home every year (from the end of October to the end of November). The rest of the time, he either picked silkworm bean honey in Yunnan or rape flower honey in Sichuan and Hubei. From May 1st to 25th, the sophora flower season in Gansu is a very important day for bee farmers. Because the price of Sophora honey is very expensive, the honey collected in this month accounts for nearly two-thirds of his annual income. If the weather turns cold at the end of April, the hope of that year will be lost. Fortunately, he had a good harvest last year, earning more than 200,000 RMB in 12 days in Gansu Province.


At the end of May, he would go to Baoding, Hebei Province to collect honey from the flowers. Around July 10th, he will go to Tongxin County, Wuzhong City, Ningxia to pick buckwheat, honey. After August 25th, he will go to Zhongning County, Zhongwei City, Ningxia. Beekeepers are popular in many places because they can pollinate local crops. However, they will inevitably encounter the harassment of ruffians sometimes. Also, someone may steal bee farmers’ honey or sugar. Fortunately, there are few such cases now.


The bee farmers need to look after the bees in the bee farm all day, one is afraid that someone will steal the bees, the other is afraid that the bees will sting passers-by. In winter, the temperature plummeted in the afternoon. Many bees who went out to collect honey in the morning couldn’t come back and fell to the ground. “We will take a bowl, pick up the bees from the ground one by one, and put them back in the hive.”


Another difficulty for bee farmers is the reduction of the transferring area. Because the varieties of the transferred bees are Italian bees, they are very big and aggressive. Now the bees in the bee base built in many places are Chinese bees, which always fail in the struggle with Italian bees. As a result, those areas with beekeeping bases are not allowed bee farmers to transfer. In the past, Deng Lin usually took bees to Jingmen and Shishou in Hubei Province in March. In 2017, there was a beekeeping base in the local area, so Deng Lin had to transfer to Huarong County in Hunan Province.


In December 2019, because his sister went to school, Denglin’s family did not go to Yunnan as usual but stayed in their hometown of Sichuan. Unexpectedly, they were lucky enough to avoid the transferring problem this year. But many of his bee farmer friends lost a lot of income. “In Yunnan, 99% of bee farmers come from Dangyang, Hubei Province. Their bees collected rape honey with pesticide, and the loss was the biggest. Also, because the road was closed, sugar could not be transported in, and many people’s Bees died of hunger.”


Although Deng Lin did not encounter similar problems, the epidemic still affected his work. Originally, after the rape flowering season in Sichuan, many bee farmers would go to Hubei. But now Hubei is closed, so lots of bee farmers went to Hunan. “We are all crowded in Hunan, so we cannot collect too much rape flower honey.”


No matter Wu Haijian or Deng Lin, whether they encounter the problem of transferring or not, the epidemic affected their livelihood this year and later to varying degrees. Wu Haijian lost a lot of bees, and Deng Lin’s honey production also decreased a lot. Dr. Zhou Jinfeng mentioned that traffic problems caused by the epidemic have also caused serious unsalable honey. Some beekeepers have a large honey stock, which made them very difficult economically and led to a lack of funds for reproduction.


Cao Yu also found in the communication with the bee farmers that the pressure of the bee farmers cannot be solved only by helping the transferring. “Now that bees are laying eggs, young bees need a better environment to grow. While CBCGDF’s beehive fund has helped a lot of people and given them money to get rid of their current difficulties, there are still many bee farmers who need more help. The beehive fund relies on fund-raising and donation. After all, the amount is limited. How to help more bee farmers more effectively and achieve real accurate help is a big problem.”


At present, there are bee related technicians contacting CBCGDF, hoping to help bee farmers better. With the support of ByteDance, Pinduoduo, and other platforms, CBCGDF has started to help bee farmers use the internet to promote their honey. For the bee farmers with financial difficulties, CBCGDF has also launched a public fund-raising campaign to help the bee farmers with financial difficulties with the initial several thousand RMB.


CBCGDF hopes to create a new model through beehive fund to help more beekeepers. The recipient must promise to donate the same amount of money back to the beehive fund when their economy improves so that other producers in need can get support.


Another feature of CBCGDF’s beehive fund is that CBCGDF invites donors and representatives of bee farmers to participate in the management. For the public application, the public system is implemented to let the peer review and select the bee farmers who need help, so that they can get timely and effective help.


The COVID-19 epidemic has highlighted the current situation of China’s beekeeping industry and has attracted more attention from all sectors of society. However, although the epidemic situation is gradually improving in China, and the transfer of bee farmers has been solved, the social attention on this topic should not fade with it. Bee is a very important link in agricultural production and an indispensable key species in the ecosystem. Bee breeding is related to the poverty alleviation of bee farmers. At the same time, bee pollination is a powerful guarantee to ensure the harvest of crops, maintain the biodiversity of agriculture, and ensure food security. It is also an important part of the ecological environment's health. Therefore, it should be a long-term and sustainable undertaking to pay attention to and help bee farmers.



(Photo credit: CBCGDF)

Original Chinese article:

By / Xue Tongtong Modified / Maggie