For centuries bees, busy as they are known to be, have benefited people, plants and the planet. By carrying pollen from one flower to another, bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators facilitate and improve food production, thus contributing to food security and nutrition. Pollination also has a positive impact on the environment in general, helping to maintain biodiversity and the vibrant ecosystems upon which agriculture depends.
The first ever World Bee Day was observed on Sunday, May 20, 2018 in an apparent bid by the United Nations to draw attention to the essential role bees and other pollinators play in keeping people and the planet healthy. The Day, adds the UN, provides an opportunity for governments, organisations, civil society and concerned citizens everywhere to promote actions that will protect and enhance pollinators and their habitats, improve their abundance and diversity, and support the sustainable development of beekeeping.
The date for the observance was chosen as it was the day Anton Janša, a pioneer of modern apiculture, was born. Janša came from a family of beekeepers in Slovenia, where beekeeping is an important agricultural activity with a long-standing tradition.
The proposal set forth by the Republic of Slovenia, with the support of Apimondia, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO), to celebrate World Bee Day on May 20 of each year met with approval by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017.
The World Bee Day intends to shine a light on the habitat of pollinators to improve the conditions for their survival so that bees and other pollinators may thrive.
FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said: “The World Bee Day presents an opportunity to recognise the role of beekeeping, bees and other pollinators in increasing food security, improving nutrition and fighting hunger as well as in providing key ecosystem services for agriculture.”
Slovenia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, who is also Head, World Bee Day project, Dejan Zidan, noted: “This is the beginning of a difficult process of the protection of bees and other pollinators. We must do more than just talk – we should undertake concrete activities to increase care for bees and promote the development of beekeeping everywhere.
On Friday, May 18 in Ljubljana, over 150 beekeepers from around the world gathered in Slovenian capital city for a conference to discuss the role of bees and challenges in beekeeping ahead of the first World Bee Day, declared by the UN for observance on May 20.
Philip McCabe, president of the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations or Apimondia, highlighted the role of bees as pollinators, saying there were many challenges ahead.
Speaking at the conference, Zidan said that, by having World Bee Day declared, Slovenia symbolically proved that honey bees and other pollinators were endangered and should be helped.
“We secured an important victory, and now we’re going forward,” he said, stressing activity had been launched to have bees declared an endangered species at the EU level.
Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association president, Bostjan Noc, who had given the idea for World Bee Day and is happy it was declared, said celebrations alone would not save honey bees, but concrete measures to protect them will.
Zirovnica Mayor, Leopold Pogacar, added he was proud that World Bee Day was being celebrated in the hometown of the pioneer of modern beekeeping, Anton Jansa (1734-1773).