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World Bee Day: History, Significance & Main Threats to Bees

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi
World Bee Day
World Bee Day

For centuries bees are working consistently to benefit us, plants and the environment. Bees are one of the hardest working creatures on our planet and their role is crucial for the entire ecosystem. They carry pollen from one flower to another and thereby ensuring not only the production of an abundance of nuts, fruits and seeds, but also more varieties and thus contributing to food security and nutrition.

Historical Background:

World Bee Day is observed across the globe on May 20. On this day, in 1734, Anton Jansa, the pioneer of beekeeping, was born. The United Nations Member States approved the proposal of Slovenia to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day in December 2017.

Purpose & Significance of Bee Day:

  • The main purpose of this World Bee Day is to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators for the ecosystem. This year, Bee Day will fall during a moment in history, where many nations across the globe continue to deal with the havoc of COVID- 19 Pandemic.

  • This year, in its 4th observance of this International Day, FAO is organizing a Virtual Event on 20 May 2021 with the theme “Bee engaged- Build Back Better for Bees”. It will highlight the importance of traditional knowledge related to beekeeping, the use of bee-derived products and services, and their importance in achieving the SDGs.

  • The aim of this event will call for global cooperation and solidarity to counter the threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to agricultural livelihoods and food security alongside prioritizing environmental regeneration and pollinator protection.

  • To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their important role to the sustainable development, this day is an occasion to spread awareness of how each individual can make a difference to support, restore and enhance the role of pollinators.

Main Threats to our Pollinators:

  • As per reports, pollinators affect approx 35 percent of the world's crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops globally, plus many plant-derived medicines. But everything is at stake right now due to sudden decrease in the numbers of bees.

  • Pollinators, like bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities. The main threats faced by our pollinators are habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. As native species of plants are replaced by manicured lawns, crops and non-native gardens, pollinators lose the food supply and nesting sites that are crucial for their survival.

  • Another reason of this decline is the improper and unconscious use of pesticides. Pesticides such as insecticides and weed killers, which are manufactured to destroy, prevent, repel or reduce pests such as insects, mice and other animals, weeds, fungi, bacteria and viruses. Nowadays pesticides are aggressively used in nearly every home, business, farm, school, hospital and park and are found almost everywhere in our environment. This is a matter of concern for all of us.

  • Other factors like intensive farming practices, land-use change, mono-cropping and higher temperatures associated with climate change all cause problems for bee populations.

  • Pollination is considered as a fundamental process for the survival of our entire ecosystems. Approximately 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land. Therefore, pollinators not only contribute directly to the food security, but they are also the key player in the biodiversity conservation.

As we know bees are under threat. According to reports, present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts. If this trend continues, our nutritious crops, such as fruits, nuts and many other vegetable crops will be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn and potatoes, eventually harming our balanced diet system. As we all depend on pollinators and it is, therefore, essential to monitor their decline and halt the loss of biodiversity. Now it is high time to re-think how we relate to Nature and Pollinators and what actions we can take to support this tiny species and millions of livelihoods that depends on them.

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