Sting operation: Police officers hurt during protest by beekeepers in Chile

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Bees fly around riot police outside the Chilean presidential palace in Santiago (REUTERS)
Bees fly around riot police outside the Chilean presidential palace in Santiago (REUTERS)

Seven police officers were stung and taken to hospital after attempting to arrest protesting beekeepers and remove their honeycombs in Chile.

Workers demonstrated outside the presidential palace in Santiago calling for government reform to improve honey prices or to provide subsidies.

Keepers set around 60 beehives, containing an estimated 10,000 insects, on the avenue in front of the building demanding a meeting with President Sebastian Pinera.

Production has been hit by a long-term drought in Chile that has withered the bees’ food sources such as flowers and crops.

While is not uncommon, the current megadrought has persisted since 2010 and climate change is at least partly to blame, scientists say.

Four beekeepers were detained. Several national police officers, called Carabiniers, had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

Workers detained by police after blocking the street (REUTERS)
Workers detained by police after blocking the street (REUTERS)

Local beekeeper Jose Iturra told reporters: “Bees are dying.

“There would be no life if the bees die. That’s what we wanted to highlight with this demonstration.”

A representative for the Ministry of Agriculture in the Santiago region said the agency was also concerned about the effect the drought was having on the bees.

Omar Guzman, the regional agricultural secretary, told Reuters the government has been providing aid for months to 20 communities experiencing severe water shortages.

Some passers-by were alarmed by the risk the bees posed to the public.

“It’s dangerous for the people who are allergic (to bees) because they can cause death,” one local said.

Droughts and rising temperatures from climate change have affected bee populations worldwide.

A 2020 study published in the journal Science found that populations fell by around 50 per cent in North America and 17 per cent in Europe in one generation.

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