Taiwan

Sweet Lessons: Urban Beekeeping in Taiwan Gains Positive Attention

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TAIPEI: Under a mulberry tree at an apiary on the outskirts of Taipei, students watched intently as instructor Ming-Hsien Tsai wafted smoke above beehives and explained to aspiring beekeepers how to keep insects happy in an urban environment.

His audience included entrepreneurs, retirees and even a six-year-old who eagerly reached for a frame pulled from a box as Tsai demonstrated how to keep bees calm in the presence of a smoker.

“Many people join my courses out of curiosity,” said the 43-year-old lecturer, who is also the head of the Taiwan Bee and Wasp Conservation Association.

“They want to know more about this insect, which is economically important and plays a vital role in agriculture.”

Bee populations around the world are facing disaster from overuse of pesticides, predatory mites and extreme temperatures caused by climate change.

This also spells disaster for humans, as three-quarters of the world’s major crops rely on bees as their primary pollinators.

Temperature and weather fluctuations in Taiwan have affected honey production in recent years. From 2020 to 2021, production increased by nearly 60% to 13,260 tons, before falling to 9,332 tons the following year.

Taiwan’s recreational beekeeping industry has grown steadily over the past decade, with people tending from a dozen to 60 beehives in their yards or rooftop gardens, Tsai said.

“The city is overdeveloped, with less green space and less biodiversity,” he told AFP.

“We hope this organism can be the key to unlocking more knowledge about nature and ecosystems.”

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