Beekeeper Story, After the Fires
Honey is a big part of the culture in the Serra De Monchique region with around 1,500 beekeepers. Many are hobbyists and keep bees and produce honey for their own use and for some it is a business. The natural fauna is ideal for the pollinators to forage on with wild lavender, heather, arbutus and pine and eucalyptus trees aplenty. Throughout the year and changing seasons, I have taken great pleasure in walking the hills and valleys seeing beehives dotted around my natural landscape and all the more so as a regular contributor to the Honey Explorer blog and website of Balqees Honey. My work has taken me all over the world meeting beekeepers and learning about the production of honey and sharing their stories so all the sweeter when I moved to the hills of the Algarve. Yet also distressing when during my first summer here I came close to the wildfires that tore through the area and I realised people’s loss. I met with a local beekeeper, Joao Dimas and wrote an article about his experience, read it here: After The Fire.
Walking in the hills of Serra de Monchique looking out for beehives
Lucinda Dimas wife of Joao tending to their beehives
Jose Nunes Joaquim, a local beekeeper of Melaria Pe da Cruz honey, tends to his frames and boxes.
The first fires started on August 3rd and ripped through the area covering 270,00 hectares. In the end, there were three fronds that finally reached a resolution nearly a week later after over 1000 firefighters got the fires under control.
Beehives burnt or overcome with smoke. There weren’t any human fatalities but 70 homes were lost along with wildlife and livestock. Thousands of bees were lost.
Check out the full story on how the fires affected beekeeper, Joao Dumas on Honey Explorer blog.
I wait and see how the fires affect pollination and the environment and wonder what can be done to prevent such devastation from happening again. As local beekeepers slowly recover a lot depends on the weather conditions over the coming months to see the true effects on yield, meanwhile green shoots are appearing and the land is regenerating but it will take a long time if ever, to fully recover and forget the fires of 2018.
Thanks to Bruno Costa for the use of images of fire and burnt hives.