Every day I surround myself with these tiny yet extraordinary creatures, in awe of their complex biology and ecology, their industrious natures, their colony structures, their cute faces and their furry bodies.
Right now, in May of 2018, I’m touring Europe, not with food and museums and monuments in my sight, but bees. I follow these insects and the people that show them love.
However, it’s their contribution to the environment, and human existence itself, that I am most amazed by and grateful for, and so I am thrilled to join the party today on May 20th to celebrate World Bee Day!
World Bee Day was declared by the United Nations late last year as an annual date to draw public attention to the importance of preserving bees and other pollinators.
On this day, we are reminded of the importance of bees for the entire humanity and invited to take concrete action to preserve and protect them. This year, World Bee Day comes at a particularly exciting time, as just weeks ago EU Member States voted in Brussels to ban the outdoor use of neonicotinoids in Europe.
Neonicotinoids (or neonics) are a class of neuro-active insecticides that have similarities to nicotine. Developed in the 1980s and 1990s, neonics were created to control several pests, especially sap-feeding insects, such as aphids on cereals and root-feeding grubs.
However, for the past thirty years, it has become evident that neonics have a devastating effect on bees. As bees are genetically more disposed to feeling the effects omitted by neonicotinoids, they have suffered massive losses and negative effects on their breeding and honey production since these chemicals were introduced. The recent bans are therefore a massive step forward for the bees of Europe!
World Bee Day focuses on the vital role honeybees and other pollinators play in providing for humanity. As we have discussed, we need bees for pollination and for human survival. This process– of bees transferring pollen and nectar from flowers back to their nest to make honey– makes bees one, if not the most, vital species to exist on the planet.
As bees pollinate 80% of flowering plants on Earth – with a single colony able to pollinate an astonishing 300 million flowers every day – bees are the major contributor to the natural floral landscape as we know it.
In turn, this makes them very important for humans, as bees pollinate 70 of the top 100 food crops, with fruits such as avocados, apples and cherries being 90% dependent on bee pollination; in effect, this means that every three mouthfuls of food we eat has been directly or indirectly pollinated by bees!
These astonishing statistics evidence just how vital it is to protect bee colonies, as their pollinating powers make them a key component in both human and animal survival. There is no time like the present to educate yourself and your family about the importance of bees so that we can move forward to help these animals help themselves, the world’s human population and the environment at large.
As part of the worldwide celebrations in the past few days, a huge congregation in Slovenia of apiarists, beekeepers, media, ministerial advisors and the public have gathered to discuss important developments for bees worldwide. Back home in Australia, schools, bee associations and community groups are hosting World Bee Day events, with a special afternoon tea of
honeyed delights even taking place at Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra! Events such as these, alongside the vital and revolutionary changes to pesticide laws in Europe, are welcome and exciting developments for the bees of the world. It is indeed a very Happy World Bee Day!