Hiroshima high school students raise honeybees for disaster-affected farmers

Yuki High School student Mizuki Kawakami hands over a box containing honeybees to a farmer in Miyagi Prefecture in October 2013. (Photo courtesy of Yuki High School)
Yuki High School student Mizuki Kawakami hands over a box containing honeybees to a farmer in Miyagi Prefecture in October 2013. (Photo courtesy of Yuki High School)

JINSEKI-KOGEN, Hiroshima -- Local high school students here have been sending honeybees to farmers in Miyagi Prefecture, an area severely hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, to help local farming recover from the disaster.

Students of Yuki High School in Jinseki-kogen, Hiroshima Prefecture, started a honeybee project to revitalize their own hometown. The project aimed at using abandoned fields and rice paddies in the town to grow plants such as lotus flowers for honeybees, and second- and third-year students began raising honeybees at the school four years ago.

In the fall of 2011, three students from Yuki High School visited Miyagi Prefecture to attend a national competition for farming and food products. They then learned that local strawberry farmers had been suffering from a shortage of honeybees necessary for pollination. To help the farmers, the students decided to send them some of the honeybees they had been raising, and a group of about 10 students began working on breeding a large number of honeybees at the school. The school donated a total of 30 boxes of honeybees to 15 strawberry farmers in 2012 and 2013.

Yuki High School students will take a bus trip to Miyagi Prefecture, some 1,100 kilometers from Hiroshima, again this year to deliver honeybees to local farmers.

Third-year student Mizuki Kawakami who visited Miyagi Prefecture last year said, "I hope the project encourages farmers in the disaster-hit areas."

Honeybees have become essential actors in fruit and vegetable pollination. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, honeybees are being used to grow a variety of farm products such as strawberries, watermelons, apples, pears, Japanese persimmon, peaches, pumpkins and cucumbers.

June 15, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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