Naucalpan de Juárez (Mexico) (AFP)
Adriana Veliz whispered affectionately as she removed a colony of bees from inside a statue in a Mexican backyard – part of her mission to help them save them from extinction.
“Relax babies, relax. Everything will be fine, ”the 32-year-old vet said as bees swarmed around her and clung to the white suit she wore to protect against their stings.
Veliz’s bee protection organization, Abeja Negra SOS, performs more than 200 such rescues a year to protect insects from dangers such as humans and pesticides.
The team of five women offers their services free of charge to help protect bees, which Veliz says play a vital role, including pollination that allows crops to reproduce.
“Basically they keep an ecosystem in balance,” she said.
Despite their importance, some people kill bees they find in their homes or offices because they are afraid of being attacked, Veliz said.
– Risky work –
Lying on the grass, she stretched her arm as far as she could inside the 1.5-meter (five-foot) concrete statue where bees made their hive in Naucalpan, near Mexico City.
# photo1 Her partner Luz Millan blew smoke at the insects to neutralize the pheromones they use to communicate, and sprayed them with water to make them harder to fly.
After removing the colony, which is home to the honeybee species Apis mellifera, the team took it to an apiary on a mountain outside of Mexico City’s urban sprawl.
Moving the insects is no easy task.
Recently, Veliz and his team had to demolish the wall of a house to access the bees inside.
“It’s dangerous because bees defend their hives. Their queen orders them with pheromones when to attack, ”Veliz said.
Abeja Negra SOS, which was founded in 2018, not only saves bees, it also empowers women, said colleague Millan.
“We don’t need a man to do this work. Women aren’t just there to do delicate things, ”she said.
– ‘Vital indicator’ –
Mexico is home to nearly 2,000 species of bees and, like many countries, environmentalists are worried about their future.
# photo2 More than a third of Mexico’s Apis mellifera bee colonies were lost in 2020, according to Adriana Correa, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The use of toxic agrochemicals and the impact of climate change on flowering cycles have taken their toll on the species, she said.
“If they die, humans are not far from suffering the same fate. They are a vital indicator for humanity, ”Correa warned.
For years, the bees living in the statue did not cause any problems, but a few weeks ago they began to sting the residents of the house.
“Suddenly they started attacking, especially my parents,” said Montserrat Moreno, a 54-year-old teacher.
“We wanted them to be taken alive and treated in the best possible way,” she added.
In the apiary on the mountainside, Veliz, who describes herself as a “keeper of the bees,” proudly displayed a dozen rescued hives, each holding up to 80,000 specimens.
“Everything will be fine here,” she told the bees, sprinkling sugar in their new home.
© 2021 AFP