The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Morodok Baitang Project has issued warnings about the declining global bee population, noting that the issue is also causing concerns in the Kingdom.

The organisation attributed the decline to human activity, including the increased use of pesticides – claims corroborated by a number of local beekeepers.

According to a May 20 social media notice from the Morodok Baitang Project, bees contribute to every aspect of the ecosystem, from the growth of trees and plants to providing food for humans and wildlife. They are specialised agents in the production and reproduction of billions of plants each year through pollination. This is particularly true of cashew trees, whose nuts have been highlighted as having export potential for the agriculture sector.

“Unfortunately, bee populations in Cambodia and around the world are in decline due to various human activities, one of which is the use of pesticides that kill insects,” it said.

“In order to protect the bees, USAID Morodok Baitang has been working with our conservation partners to support cashew nut producer groups to shift from the use of pesticides to bee-friendly organic pest management practices. Such practices ensure that cashew nut plantations are healthy, more environmentally friendly and safe for the bees,” it added.

Tith Sotheara, a beekeeper in Peam Chikang commune’s Koh Touch village of Kampong Cham province’s Kang Meas district, echoed the statement, saying chemicals are very harmful to bees.

“If I place my beehives near farms that are using chemicals, all of the bees that I raise will die. I support the claims and I would like the public to participate in bee conservation,” she told The Post on May 21.

Sotheara noted that there are many beekeeping operations in the Kingdom, but they are usually organised only at the household level, with few wholesalers or brokers.

She said most consumers prefer pure honey, but that without collectives, brands or trademarks, it was difficult to find markets.

“In terms of natural beekeeping, there is no association yet, although there are some organisations that support wild beekeeping. I am currently working with other beekeepers to form a collective or association,” she said.