HomeWeatherBleak future for beekeepers in Turkey after wildfires devastate hives and forests

Bleak future for beekeepers in Turkey after wildfires devastate hives and forests

Turkey’s beekeepers have had their livelihoods ruined by the country’s worst-ever wildfires decimating thousands of beehives.

Forests have been reduced to ash after the fires, sparked by a heatwave and fanned by strong winds, ripped through the majority of the country’s regions since 28 July.

Turkey is one of the many nations along the Mediterranean coast that has been ravaged by the fires. At least eight people and countless animals have been killed.

Nearly all of the residents of Osmaniye, a neighbourhood in the popular tourist resort city Marmaris, are beekeepers and depend on the honey trade to make a living.

Ali Kaya, 33, is second-generation beekeeper after taking over his late father’s 42-year-old honey business.

He lost 250 hives to the wildfires. He said that buying new hives would not solve the problem as the area has also lost the ecosystem of forests and insects that the bees survive on.

Mr Kaya said: “There is nothing left here, no trees left. Animals burned. Some people’s homes and roofs burned.

“I have no idea what we’ll do. Our heads are all messed up, our mental outlook destroyed. We can’t think clearly here in Osmaniye.”

The fires have been raging across more than half of Turkey’s provinces. As of Sunday, almost a fortnight since the fires started, some wildfires were still burning in the provinces of Mugla, Aydin, and Isparta.

Further to the east, forests in Antalya’s Manavgat district were also incinerated. Local beekeeper Guven Karagol had to leave his hives behind once the flames rapidly came closer, he told Turkish IHA news agency.

About 20 of his 100 hives have survived. The remaining hives have given him some “hope” for the future after six years of his work was lost in the blaze – he said.

The Turkish government has said that the burned forests would be reforested, but campaigners and experts have said that the forests need to be left alone to regenerate.

Medine Yilmaz, another second-generation beekeeper in Osmaniye, had spoken to Turkish officials who visited the area.

She wanted the remaining trees to be allowed to stay upright, to see if they could regenerate over time, but she said that the authorities were planning on tearing them down.

“We rose up as younger people and stopped the bulldozers. If they come again, I will lay down in front of them and not let them cut the trees,” Ms Yilmaz added.

Her husband Yusuf said: “Homes will be rebuilt, wounds bandaged, but nature will not heal for 70-80 years.”

A forest burning near to a resort in Marmaris, on Turkey’s southwestern coast along the Med


President Tayyip Erdogan’s government has promised to rebuild the many burned homes and compensate villagers for their losses.

But his ministers have been criticised for the lack of firefighting planes, poor planning, and overall inability to stop the fires.

Official data shows that ministers spent only 2 per cent of a modest fund of about £17 million budgeted to prevent and fight forest fires this year – according to Reuters.

The budget had been “planned as if there wasn’t going to be any fires,” Republican People’s Party deputy Murat Emir said earlier this week in a parliamentary question to Bekir Pakdemirli, Turkey’s agriculture and forestry minister.

Mr Pakdemirli has blamed the lack of resources on the Turkish Aeronautical Association, saying it failed to maintain a fleet of firefighting planes despite generous funding.

Additional reporting by AP

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