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Company Works to Save Mexico City’s Bees

Adriana Veliz and members of her group Abeja Negra SOS, wearing bee suits to protect themselves from stings, rescue a beehive that made its nest inside a lamp post base in Mexico City, Thursday, June 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Company Works to Save Mexico City’s Bees
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A company in Mexico City is working to save some small, but important members, of the Mexican capital’s community --- bees. The flying insects play a big part in a healthy ecosystem as pollinators.

The company is called Abeja Negra SOS. Abeja means bee in Spanish and negra means black. SOS is a code used to communicate an urgent need for help.

The company’s main effort is to find new homes for bees threatened with destruction by bee removal services. They usually destroy the bee homes, called beehives, in their work.

Abeja Negra SOS was created in 2018. Its leader, Adriana Velíz, is an animal doctor. She was working for the government, she said, when she started noticing calls about beehive removal needs. She said the government’s first answer was to kill the bees.

So, she and other coworkers began looking for a way to remove the bees and their homes without such destruction. They decided on re-homing the insects.

“We do these rescues because it’s a species that’s in danger of extinction,” said Velíz, adding, “We give them a second chance.”

Adriana Veliz, left, and Lucy Millan search for the queen bee from their most recent rescue in Xochimilco, Mexico, Tuesday, June 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Adriana Veliz, left, and Lucy Millan search for the queen bee from their most recent rescue in Xochimilco, Mexico, Tuesday, June 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Around the world, bee numbers have decreased sharply in recent history. The United States alone is estimated to have lost around 25 percent of its bees in the past 40 years. Earlier this year, beekeepers in southern Mexico mourned the “mass killing” of millions of bees by farming chemicals.

The decrease in bee populations is often blamed on human causes. Reasons include the use of damaging chemicals, the destruction of natural environments, and climate change. Scientists and world leaders warn that decreasing bee numbers could have many different effects.

In 2019, the United Nations declared that bee loss is a serious threat to worldwide food security.

Adriana Correa Benítez is a professor researching bees at National Autonomous University of Mexico. She said loss of bees could make it more difficult for Mexico to deal with climate change.

Because many of the bees in Mexico come from African roots, they can be more aggressive than the average honeybee. Some people living in the city fear bee attacks and bee stings. And some also may not understand the importance of bees.

During the last five years, Abeja Negra SOS says it has saved bees in hives all around the capital city, which is home to nine million people. The group says it has re-homed about 510 hives. The average population of such a hive is 80,000 bees.

Once a removed hive is safely stored inside of a box, the group takes the bees to the rural edges of the city. The bees can recover there and grow stronger. They later give the bees to local bee farmers or release them into the wild.

The team has faced some difficulties because their hive re-homing service costs a bit more than $300. For many in the city, it is still easier to call firefighters to exterminate bees for free.

Yet, the project has grown. And talk of Abeja Negra SOS has also led to the creation of other groups who are doing the same work.

“With what we do, we may not be changing the world, but we’re at least changing the situation in our city,” Velíz said.

I’m Gregory Stachel.

Megan Janetsky reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

pollinator n. an agent (such as an insect) that pollinates flowers

exterminate v. to destroy or kill (a group of animals, people, etc.) completely

species n. a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants

extinction n. the state or situation that results when something (such as a plant or animal species) has died out


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