World Bee Day is celebrated on May 20. On this day Anton Janša, the pioneer of beekeeping, was born in 1734. The purpose of the international day is to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators for the ecosystem. The UN Member States approved Slovenia’s proposal to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day in December 2017.
Lessons from nature
Bees travel far and wide in their search for food, pollinating the flowers in their path. Their endeavors guide them to traverse boundaries, including those set by humans. If bees didn’t do this, we would have no fruits, no vegetables, no flowers – much too little to eat and a very drab world!. Because the work of these insects is essential not only for us humans, but also for innumerable other creatures, it is in our best interest to protect them. We can also think of them as messengers of peace, given that they cross in and out across boundaries so easily.
Religious and humanistic traditions teach us to care for one another, act in moderation and preserve nature. Yet we humans have failed to create a world without discrimination, war and the exploitation of the Earth. We cling to our borders, forgetting that we are first and foremost humans dependent on this precious Earth and its diversity of living beings. Bees could be role models, encouraging us to act accordingly, overcoming our boundaries in a united concern for the welfare of all. May the bees constantly remind us of peace and respect for life.
Many monks and nuns have practiced beekeeping and the bee colony has often been described as a role model not only for monasteries but for society as a whole.
Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities. Pollination is a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems. 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.
Recognizing the dimensions of the pollination crisis and its links to biodiversity and human livelihoods, the Convention on Biological Diversity has made the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators a priority.
We can 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.
And also see https://www.apimondia.org/world-bee-day.html
Bee and flower rejoice
And now you ask in your heart, “How
shall we distinguish that which is good in
joy from that which is not good?”
Go to your fields and your gardens, and
you shall learn that it is the joy of
the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the joy of the flower
to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of
And to both, bee and flower, the giving
and the receiving of joy is a need and
Khalil Gibran 🧡 (adapted)