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Monday, September 27, 2021

Greek wildfires destroy unique beekeeping habitat

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EVIA ISLAND, GREECE — Residents across Greece’s second-largest island are beginning to take stock of the devastation caused to their forests, villages and famed honey bees by wildfires.

David Stamatonikolos, one of Evia Island’s beekeepers, knew what to expect when he returned to his prized beehives, but was still upset walking through their remains. Everything, apart from the metal covers, was burned.

He loved his beehives, Stamatonikolos told CTV National News, and seeing them destroyed hurt his heart.

Sixty per cent of Greece’s honey normally comes from Evia Island, and there’s a special reason. The local pine trees give the honey a unique flavour, so much so that producers from all over Greece bring their beehives to the island.

A lot of that precious environment is now gone.

“My children and their children will not see this forest again like I saw it,” Istiaia Mayor Giannis Kontzias said.

At one point, Greece was fighting a hundred new fires a day. It was no less than an ecological catastrophe, according to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“The climate crisis he here,” he said at a press conference Thursday, “and it shows us that everything must change.”

Stamatonikolos had 50 beehives nestled along a now-blackened hillside on Evia Island. Only half a dozen hives survived, but the bees that worked inside are dead.

There’s no need to try and produce honey here anymore, he said, because the forest is finished.

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