Anton Janša, the 18th century Slovenian beekeeper, was notably active in spreading the word on the importance of bees worldwide. In 2017, his birthday, 20 May, was approved as the international World Bee Day.
The importance of bees
Did you know that bees pollinate over 90% of plants that we consume? If not, here are some other interesting bee functions to support your curiosity. First, bees provide humans with food security. For example, they generate honey, royal jelly and pollen. Additionally, other bee-generated products are also used in healthcare. Among them, you can find beeswax, propolis, and honey bee venom.
Second, bees contribute to the sustainable farming and farmer’s income. To grow enough crops to feed the society, we need to have the plants of these crops well pollinated. When plants are well pollinated, on the other hand, they become more resistant to pests and their general quality is also improved. Cultivated plants, in turn, are the important source of income to farmers, especially those that work on smaller, family-owned farms.
Third, bees help to promote biodiversity and overall environmental protection. By ensuring pollination, they protect and maintain ecosystems. The healthier the ecosystems, the richer the biodiversity within them. Additionally, bees also act as indicators of the state of the environment. Their presence, absence or quantity tells us whether the environmental situation of the area is positive or negative.
Why are bees’ populations in severe decline?
Bees continue to experience severe decline.
The first-ever assessment of all European wild bee species shows that 9.2% are threatened with extinction, while 5.2% are considered likely to be threatened in the near future. A total of 56.7% of the species are classified as Data Deficient, as lack of experts, data and funding has made it impossible to evaluate their extinction risk.
There are various reasons to bee mortality. The most crucial among them are: varroa mites, nosema disease and viral infections; mass use of pesticides; new pests, which spread faster around the world due to globalisation; urbanisation, which is affecting the agricultural lands; climate change; as well as the sufficient global trade in low-quality honey.
How can I help the bees?
There are a lot of things you can do to improve the current status of these significant insect species. Here are the crucial ones:
- Plant nectar-bearing flowers on balconies, terraces, and gardens;
- Make a bee water fountain by leaving a water bowl outside;
- Avoid using pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in the garden;
- Cut grass on meadows only after the nectar-bearing plants have finished blooming;
- Help sustaining forest ecosystems;
- Buy raw honey and other hive products from local beekeepers;
- and buy products from sustainable agricultural practices;
Also, make sure you join this year’s World Bee Day celebrations, on the 20th of May 2021 at 13:00 (CEST), hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Join the event here.
And furthermore, you can watch and share the below video to spread awareness on the importance of the bees!
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