Climate change migratory bees from the Bolivian plains and valleys found a home in the Aldiplano, some near Lake Titicaca where they were able to grow to an altitude of more than 3,800 meters.
The Culture Center “La Raina del Lago” is home to at least one million bees, located in San Pablo de Dikina, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, under the care of local-born agronomist Humares.
He told Efe that his parents were farmers and fish farmers, and that Humors was interested in beekeeping when he graduated from university and did a degree course on the reproduction of queen bees.
Since 2013, it started with the production and sale of honey and its derivatives, and last year decided to open the center to visitors with the aim of raising awareness of “how important bees are in our environment”.
“We give visitors an in-depth explanation of bees, how they live in the hive, and how they are organized,” he explained.
About 15 minutes from the Plaza de San Pablo de Dikina, the beekeeping center is surrounded by eucalyptus trees and medicinal plants such as goa, tola or silka, whose flowers grow bees.
In his opinion, this makes the difference between honey produced elsewhere and his beekeeping center.
House in Aliplano
According to Humares, climate change and the overuse of agrochemicals caused bees to migrate “naturally” from the lowlands and warmer regions of the east, such as the Los Yungas de la Pass, to the Aliplano.
“They settled in the valleys of the mountains, where there are holes where there are nests of Andean woodpeckers called yaga-yakus (…), where it was a little strange to see them at first,” he commented.
To start his project, Humorus got a whole hive and started raising bees in craft boxes, but he soon found that this was not optimal.
“If you do not give them the comfort they need, they will not produce honey, so we gradually implemented technical boxes,” said the beekeeper, who now uses longstroke bees that are comfortable for bees and responds positively to “honey production”
There are currently fifteen hives in the center, with 50,000 to 100,000 bees per household already adapted to the cold and dry climate of the Altiplano because they generate the heat needed when temperatures drop.
Humorus has made genetic improvements to the insects at his center, identified in Oliptlino with a hybrid between the European Office Melifera, “at first it was a bit aggressive”, and the Abies Melifera sought out the most resistant species to the buckfast climate. . He explained.
The development of the center was not easy because the engineer sometimes had to pay a “floor fee” if his hands and face were swollen and bitten.
But now the experience has led him to take a bee bath against stress, which is also a treatment for visitors who want to do this.
The bees are in a landscape adjacent to Humeras’ house, from where you can see the lake and a warning sign that it is 3,810 meters above sea level.
Visitors previously wore special clothing to get close to the bees, while the beekeeper uses sawdust smoke, which helps calm them down, he explained.
In each cage a queen lives for three to seven years and eats royal jelly. There are also worker bees and drones, which have a shelf life of two to four months and feed with honey porridge.
The foragers leave early in search of pollen and return with small yellow, orange or brown spots on their legs, while the drones provide heat to the larvae.
At the center, Humorus offers honey, propolis, royal jelly and lip balms, ointments, a propomyl spray and all products such as honey and cinnamon wine.
The beekeeper was asked to learn about the use of agrochemicals as they are poisonous to bees.
In addition to caring for bees, the beekeeper felt that his effort would help promote tourism beyond the traditional boat trips to San Pablo de Dikina.