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Some are asking for more government assistance

Armenian beekeepers have had a tough time this spring.

The drought and the decrease in the number of colonies hit most of them hard. The Yengoans turned out to be the exception.

Hetq readers may remember Hovsep and Asya Yengoyan, the couple from the village of Arpeni in the Armenian province of Syunik, donate a million drams, their entire savings, to the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund last October.

Ms. Yengoyan says bees are like children and need to be carefully cared for. She tells us how she and her husband treated the bees medically in time so that none were lost in the spring.

“As soon as we extracted the honey in August, we gave a treatment against Varroasis apium and then we treated against European rot. We have already completed these processes. In a month, when the days get colder, the bees will shrink in size. We will remove the frames without bees from the hive, reducing the overall size to keep it warm. The warmer the place, the better the winter will be and we will have no losses next spring.

While they had a good spring, the couple lost a few beehives in the summer. Ms. Yengoyan attributes it to the drought.

“If the vegetation in the area starts to dry out, the bees will have to go further and bring in less. The bees are running out and might never come back.

The Yengoans mainly use traditional beekeeping methods.

The gray and yellow bees of the Caucasus have not been replaced by other species imported from abroad. The beehives are made of wood. The couple don’t like lighter, non-woody varieties.

Mr. Yengoayn urges beekeepers, new and experienced, to keep bee colonies at least two miles from each other.

“The bees get in the way of each other and a field is exhausted quickly, in a day. The rest of the time, they have to go far, bring little to the hive or get tired on the way, ”explains the 89-year-old man.

The family business Sargsyan Honey did not have the same luck as the Yengoyans last spring.

Aghvan Sargsyan and his son Martin run the company in Metz Sariar, a village in the Armenian province of Syunik. They work with seventeen local beekeepers.

“According to our data, there has been a 75% drop in the region this year. People have seen the number of beehives drop, receiving little honey, ”says Sargsyan. “We suffered an 80% loss and had to buy more bee colonies. Even that did not result in a normal harvest, ”says Sargsyan.

He says the problems started in July-August last year. The weather was dry, there was hardly any rain. The second treatment for Varroasis apium was neglected due to the war that started in September.

Armenia is one of the ancient centers of beekeeping.

Xenophon mentions that there were many beehives in the mountain villages of Armenia. Armenian historians Movses Khorenatsi and Hovhannes Draskhanakertsi have similar references

Martin Sargsyan says his family has been engaged in beekeeping for 150 years

“I am not a beekeeper. I mainly sell ready-to-use products. I am more aware of the innovations offered on the market, ”explains Martin. “In the past, our Caucasian gray bee was predominantly present. It is possible that imported species are either poorly adapted or bring disease. We don’t talk about it a lot because people are making money. New varieties can manifest themselves differently in different climates. Diseases can mutate and local treatments can become ineffective, ”explains Martin Sargsyan.

He believes that beekeeping should be one of the pillars of the Armenian economy and therefore needs the help of the government.

Martin says the government steps in when diseases strike the beef industry and the same level of attention should be given to beekeepers.

“In the case of beekeeping, each beekeeper has to analyze for himself the problems he is facing and find solutions,” says Martin Sargsyan, adding that beekeepers are mainly low-key people who don’t like to talk about their failures. and their successes to their peers.

Martin Sargsyan says that Armenian multi-flower honey is exported in small quantities but is highly regarded because of its quality.

He says overseas beekeepers mainly produce monaflora honey over large tracts of land.

“I studied the foreign market. Armenian honey cannot compete in terms of quantity. It is our quality that allows us to set a higher market price. But we could lose our position in the market in the future. We need government help, resources, specialists. It is not possible to study the field at the level of the beekeeper alone, to develop a strategy.

Martin says that beekeeping in Armenia is considered a pastime for retirees, mainly those fifty years or older. You get a beehive or two, make some honey for the house, and sell the rest.

He believes that it is this conception that has thwarted the development of the sector. There is no connection between the old and the young generation of beekeepers. Knowledge is not passed on.

By working with beekeepers in Shirak, the Sarkissians want to bridge this gap. They are realizing, however, that small initiatives like theirs can only solve some of the problems that plague the sector.

“We often talk so much about problems that there is no time for solutions. We discuss things for years but never come up with remedies, ”Martin explains. The addition of state subsidies at zero rate would be a boon for the sector.

He argues that private banks should view beekeeping as a profitable sector, with low risk, and start proving low-interest loans themselves.

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