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How Israel is saving the honeybees – AND THE WORLD



Honeybees across the world are in a sticky situation. Their numbers are dwindling dramatically due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) for reasons that are not fully understood.

Yet the honeybee population in Israel is holding steady.

That’s great news at this time of year, when sweet Jewish New Year dishes push honey demand to its peak. And most importantly, bees play a crucial role in agriculture by pollinating vegetables and fruits.

Israel takes measures to ensure that its bee population declines no more than 10% each year, compared to 30% to 50% in the United States, where the problem is so severe that Häagen-Dazs ice cream has donated $1 million to honeybee research since 2008, and President Barack Obama initiated a national strategy to promote bee health.

“We try all kinds of things,” Israeli Honey Board CEO Hertzel Avidor tells ISRAEL21c, such as supporting Israeli research into all the biological and botanical angles on CCD, from boosting bees’ immune systems to developing nectar- rich plants.

The council helps Israel’s 500 beekeepers implement innovative tactics to support a collective 110,000 hives. (The slight reduction in bees does not affect Israel’s honey supply because each year more colonies are introduced to offset the loss.

Climate is the main variable in reaching an ideal annual yield of 3,000 tons, Avidor says.) The first step in avoiding CCD is to follow Agriculture Ministry guidelines for eradicating Varroa mites, a parasite considered a core cause of CCD.

But another significant strategy


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