You may find Marchalina hellenica, also known as the scale insect, repulsive, but for beekepers, this tiny bug is a sign of new hope. Beleaguered beekeepers who lost acres of forests to recent fires in southern Turkey hailed the return of a species to ashen forests that is a harbinger of revival.
The insect is instrumental in producing honeydew, an important source of food for forest honey bees producing pine honey derived from the burned forests in Muğla. This southwestern Turkish province accounts for production of some 80% of pine honey in the country. Turkey itself accounts for some 92% of pine honey production in the world.
Traveling beekeepers from around the country descend to Muğla this time of the year with beehives in tow. Many nomadic beekeepers, including some from Muğla, move their hives to Turkey's inland upper plains in the spring each year and come to Muğla from mid-August on for the pine trees. Those beehives were spared from burning but their whole production cycle has been shattered. Gone were the “honey forests,” although the beekeepers have found new wooded areas in the province to set up their production areas. Their loss is great. Veli Türk, who heads a local union of beekeepers, says some 35% of burned forests in Muğla were among the best places for harvests for beekepers. “We are deeply wounded but we did not lose hope,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday. Türk believes in “miracles,” especially after sighting the scale insect on a burned pine tree collapsed in the fire in the province’s Köyceğiz district. “We were touring the burned areas where we used to harvest honey and I came across this tree. I had a magnifying glass and when I checked its trunk, I saw the insect,” he recounted. What boosted their hope even more is seeing bees still flying around burned trees. “Local beekeepers lost less than half of their potential produce but they expect a production rate at 60%,” he added.
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