Beekeepers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have genetically modified queen bees to withstand the effects of climate change. The country is experiencing increasingly high temperatures.
“With temperatures that could reach 50 degrees, 45 degrees, bees can’t survive in these hot temperatures. We can overcome this by placing the bees under large shelters, we also make sure there are water sprinklers around,” said Moustafa Mohamed, production manager at the Hatta Honeybee Garden and Discovery Centre. The center has around 2,500 hives, each with 15-20 thousand bees.
“Also, we were able to develop a strain of bees that can survive the heat in the UAE. Through genetic manipulation, we were able to choose certain genes in the bees that allow the queen bee to live in hot temperatures,” he told news agency Reuters.
“Climate change of course plays a big role. It’s a big factor when it comes to honey production. If there is no rainfall, the bees are affected. If the temperature rises in a season, the bees are affected, and they may not collect honey,” Mohamed said.
Bees play a vital role in maintaining the health of the world’s ecosystems. Their decline globally poses a substantial risk to biodiversity and human food security.
Research published in Science magazine in 2020 suggested that increased temperatures directly contributed to the decline in bumblebee species.