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Honey will no longer be produced on the slopes of mount Artos!

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Beekeepers, who produce honey in the Gevaş district of Van, came to the point of quitting their work due to the increasing input costs due to the economic crisis: “Gevaş is a very beautiful place, but unfortunately it is derelict.

Beekeeping has been practiced for many years in the Gevaş district of Van, which is located on the skirts of Artos Mountain. The district, which is at an altitude of 1700 meters, has a special place in honey production. In addition to the plants growing in every region, this mountain also hosts 48 plant varieties that are rare in Turkey. The quality of the honey produced in the region stretching from the shores of Lake Van to the peaks of Artos Mountain is determined by the variety of plants. There are about 100 beekeepers in the region. In addition to the beekeepers in Gevaş, many traveling beekeepers prefer to spend their summer months in this region.

‘Rising sugar prices starved the bees

One of the difficulties of this profession that requires patience is the winter conditions because Gevaş is one of the coldest regions of Turkey. Fixed beekeepers wintering here also carries great risks. The bees, which have to deal with cold weather, humidity, hunger and various diseases, can breed again in the spring, even if it decreases during the winter months. Since the breeding season in Van does not coincide with flowers, the bees mostly feed on sugar. But rising sugar prices cause beekeepers to be unable to feed the bees. As such, the economic crisis, as well as winter and disease, causes a decrease in bees. Beekeeping is no longer able to withstand the economic crisis and beekeepers have almost come to the point of quitting their jobs.

‘Our effort is wasted’

Nusret Danış, who has been beekeeping in the district for 42 years, says that their district is a special place for honey production. “We are trying to increase our bees, but our efforts are wasted due to high sugar prices and the bee bird,” he complains about being expensive. He often emphasizes that beekeeping is a useful profession. Speaking of which, it reminds us that Gevaş honey was the first in Turkey last year.Alongside this , he again touches upon the effects of the economic crisis he mentioned at the beginning of his speech. Danış said, “We usually go to other cities for wintering. But shipping prices have also gone up a lot. While coming from Adana last year, I paid 4 thousand 5 hundred TL for transportation. But this year, I paid 21 thousand TL for the same road. Our situation is not good at all, so we are looking for a solution to cope with these prices,” he says, and states that they expect support from the state.

‘They are constantly causing problems for the beekeeper’

Mehmet Danış, one of the beekeepers, started beekeeping 6 years ago with his brother. After learning the job, he created his own swarm of bees. He spends the winter in the district because the transportation prices are high and his financial situation is not suitable, and unfortunately he lost 70 hive bees. Drawing attention to the price hikes in the market with 80 hive bees left, he says, “They are constantly causing a problem for the beekeeper.” He mention that the prices of sugar, wire, candles and transportation have increased compared to last year: “Gevaş is a very beautiful place, but unfortunately it is derelict. That’s why the beekeepers here are also homeless. Beekeepers need support.”

‘We are being compelled to end this business’

Derviş Tepe, one of the oldest beekeepers of Gevaş, has been making a living from beekeeping for years. He says that he does not do any business other than beekeeping and, like every beekeeper, he primarily talks about sugar prices: “Last year, a bag of sugar was 220 TL, this year it is around one thousand and two hundred TL. Again, while we were able to reproduce our bees with 5 bags of sugar last year, we cannot this year. A bag of sugar is not enough for our bees anyway.”

While  Tepe had 90 hives before, he currently has only 30 hives. He often repeats that they had to quit this job, and he states that the remaining bees do not work because of the bee bird. He adds that they are waiting for a step from the government to solve their problems: “They should either lower the sugar prices or give us permission to use weapons to scare the bee-bird. Because the bee bird attacks our bees like an enemy. We want them to find solutions to our problems.”

‘Costs have increased, but the price of honey remains in place’

Another beekeeper, Oktay Orhun, has been dealing with this business for about 20 years. According to their reports, beekeeping was a very profitable business in the past. In today’s Turkey, beekeeping has become a profession without profit. Costs have increased, but prices have remained in place. We ask, “Is the main problem of beekeeping only the economic crisis in this period?” and Orhun states that one of the biggest problems is wholesalers. They say that wholesalers who visit the district during the honey cutting period buy honey from producers at very low prices and sell it at high prices in big cities.

 ‘We may have to import honey’

He states that although the quality of honey produced in Gevaş is higher than many honeys, beekeepers suffer because it is not promoted enough. Orhun, who is troubled by the fact that the state subsidies were increased from 10 TL per beehive last year to 20 TL this year, says that this money means nothing for a beehive. And he comments that if this crisis cannot be managed, Turkey will start to use imported honey.

Translator: Akif Coşkun

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Honey will no longer be produced on the slopes of mount Artos!

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