Seven Chilean police officers were stung and taken to hospital after attempting to arrest protesting beekeepers and remove their honeycombs.
The beekeepers are calling for government reform to improve honey prices or to provide subsidies to producers.
Long-term drought in Chile has withered the bees’ food sources such as flowers and crops, leaving honey production suffering.
While parts of Chile have often suffered from drought, the current megadrought has persisted since 2010 and is driven at least partly by climate change, scientists say.
On Monday the beekeepers set around 60 beehives, containing an estimated 10,000 bees, on the avenue in front of the presidential palace, demanding a meeting with President Sebastian Pinera.
Seven national police officers, called Carabiniers, had to be taken to hospital for treatment.
“Bees are dying,” local beekeeper Jose Iturra told reporters, speaking of the drought in the Colina commune north of Santiago.
“There would be no life if the bees die. That’s what we wanted to highlight with this demonstration.”
The government has been providing aid for months to 20 communities experiencing severe water shortages, Omar Guzman, the regional agricultural secretary, told reporters.
Droughts and rising temperatures from climate change have affected bee populations worldwide. A 2020 study published in the journal Science found that populations fell by around 50% in North America and 17% in Europe in one generation.
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