Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
May 13, 2024 ·  3 min read

Maya beekeepers blame Bayer-Monsanto for deaths of 300,000 bees

A large-scale bee death in Yucatan, Mexico has led to farmers blaming Bayer-Monsanto for the loss of 300,000 bees. The mass bee death affected around 100 apiaries and up to 2,500 hives in San Francisco Suctuc and Crucero Oxá, in the municipality of Hopelchén. The farmers say that the cause of death is linked to aerial fumigation of corn, sorghum and soy crops at the Zenit ranch near Crucero Oxá, which they say is operated by agrochemical giant Bayer-Monsanto.

Mexican Beekeepers Blaming Bayer-Monsanto For 300,000 Bee Deaths

Though it is not yet confirmed by the lab, beekeepers in Hopelchén, Mexico, are blaming Bayer-Monsanto for reported combined economic losses of up to 12 million pesos (US $663,000). They say the company flew in with planes and sprayed nearby corn, sorghum, and soy crops. The bees busy pollinating in the area then brought these chemicals back to their hives, inadvertently killing off nearly 300,000 bees. (1)

“One of Bayer’s engineers or technicians allowed us to take samples from one of their crops after the bees started to die,” José Manuel Poot Chan, one of the affected beekeepers, told the newspaper La Jornada Maya. “We are exhausting all possible legal instances, while members of the Welfare Ministry already came to offer humanitarian social aid to cover part of the damages,”

The beekeepers are now demanding that Bayer-Monsanto pay for their losses, and they have hired a team of experts to investigate this matter. If these accusations are true, then Bayer-Monsanto may be liable under Mexican law.

Bayer-Monsanto Might Not Be The Only Ones To Blame

Mennonite communities in the region might also be partially to blame. The Collective of Maya Communities of the Chenes, a nongovernmental organization in Hopelchén, has also reported chemical fumigation by these communities. A report done in 2016 found that the Mennonite communities were illegally using highly toxic herbicides carbofuran, imidacloprid, chlorphyrifos and atrazine. They even found them in the water near these communities. What’s worse, they found traces of the herbicide glyphosate in the farmers’ urine. This chemical is produced by Bayer-Monsanto.

Mexican President López Obrador announced in December of 2020 that they will phase out the use of herbicide glyphosate by 2024. Environmental groups have praised this move, saying that it will protect Mexican flora and fauna. As can be expected, Bayer-Monsanto is opposed. They argue that the glyphosate is safer than alternatives. Clearly, Mexican bee farmers do not agree.

The Problem With Glyphosate

Bayer-Monsanto advertises its herbicide weed killer known as Round-Up is safe for wildlife. The active ingredient in this product is glyphosate. It is the most widely sprayed herbicide in the world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just kill weeds, but also honey bees. (2)

Round-Up is a glyphosate-based herbicide that has been linked to cancer, infertility and birth defects. Glyphosate is also toxic to frogs, fish and birds. It can contaminate drinking water sources and pollute the soil for decades after application.

The active ingredient in Round-Up is glyphosate, which is a systemic herbicide. This means that it works by penetrating the tissues of plants and interfering with the production of certain proteins necessary for growth and survival. Glyphosate kills weeds without damaging crops or other plants in the area because it does not break down easily in soil or water. (3)

The Bottom Line

Mexican bee farmers have written and published a collective denunciation of Bayer-Monsanto and the harm that they have caused. They’re hope is that somehow the company will compensate them for what they have lost and right this wrong. As things tend to with the infamous company, however, I am sure that they will not go down without a long, drawn-out legal battle over it.


  1. Mexico News Daily
  2. Sierra Club
  3. Glyphosate: Cancer and other health concerns.” US Right To Know. Stacy Malkan. March 1, 202.