Today is World Bee Day. This international day draws attention to the importance of bees to the ecosystem. Not only do they contribute directly to food security, they are also essential for the conservation of biodiversity. Unfortunately, bees are increasingly threatened by human activities and therefore awareness is needed. We all depend on the survival of bees!
The bees are not doing well. Both numbers and species diversity are decreasing alarmingly. Alarming, because bees are an indispensable link in the preservation of a biodiverse nature and a fertile food system. More than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of the world’s agricultural land are pollinated by bees and other insects. Bees are also food for birds and they ensure the reproduction of wild plants. Almost 90% of the world’s wild-flowering plant species depend in whole or in part on animal pollination.
World Bee Day 2020
World Bee Day is an international day to raise awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators to the ecosystem. The Member States of the United Nations adopted in December 2017 Slovenia’s proposal to declare World Bee Day on 20 May. This date was chosen because May 20 is the birthday of Anton Janša, born in 1734. He is known as a pioneer in beekeeping. In the Netherlands, the month of May is important for the honey bee. The colony is very active. They produce plenty of spring honey. Wild bees are also very active at this time of the year. World Bee Day aims to strengthen measures aimed at protecting bees and other pollinators, which would contribute significantly to solving problems related to the global food supply and eradicating hunger in developing countries. We all depend on pollinators and it is therefore crucial to follow their decline and stop the loss of biodiversity.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the beekeeping sector affecting the production, the market and as a consequence, the livelihoods of beekeepers. This year, World Bee Day will therefore focus on bee production and good practices adopted by beekeepers to support their livelihoods and deliver good quality products.
We need to act now
Bees are under threat. Present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts. Close to 35 percent of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and about 17 percent of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats, face extinction globally. If this trend continues, nutritious crops, such as fruits, nuts and many vegetable crops will be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn and potatoes, eventually resulting in an imbalanced diet. Intensive farming practices, land-use change, mono-cropping, pesticides and higher temperatures associated with climate change all pose problems for bee populations and, by extension, the quality of food we grow.
How can we do more?
- planting a diverse set of native plants, which flower at different times of the year;
- buying raw honey from local farmers;
- buying products from sustainable agricultural practices;
- avoiding pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in our gardens;
- protecting wild bee colonies when possible;
- sponsoring a hive;
- making a bee water fountain by leaving a water bowl outside;
- helping sustaining forest ecosystems;
- raising awareness around us by sharing this information within our communities and networks; The decline of bees affects us all!
As beekeepers, or farmers by:
- reducing, or changing the usage of pesticides;
- diversifying crops as much as possible, and/or planting attractive crops around the field;
- creating hedgerows.
As governments and decision-makers by:
- strengthening the participation of local communities in decision-making, in particular that of indigenous people, who know and respect ecosystems and biodiversity;
- enforcing strategic measures, including monetary incentives to help change;
- increasing collaboration between national and international organizations, organizations and academic and research networks to monitor and evaluate pollination services.
For more informatie, visit the United Nations World Bee Day website.