Bees are very important; they pollinate most of the fruits and vegetables that we eat, create honey, and are important for biodiversity. Unfortunately, they are threatened now by pollution, diseases, and the destruction of meadows. For bees to be protected, people need to be aware of how essential they are. The republic of Slovenia has been campaigning for a World Bee Day to spread public awareness about bees. May 20th is the proposed day. Although we can still unofficially celebrate this year, it will likely become official next year.
The buzz on bees
Bees pollinate up to 170,000 species of plants, they keep all of these plants alive for future generations. Not only do they support beautiful flowers, but most of the produce that we eat. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that 71% of all human food crops depend on pollinators. If you want to put a number on it, these crops together have a value between US$ 235 billion to US$ 577 billion. And the bees do this job for free! In addition to pollinating and maintaining thousands of plants, bees provide honey and other products. Additionally, if something is wrong with the bees, then they serve as a warning sign that there is something wrong with the environment.
Unfortunately, and bad for us, bees are in trouble. This year the rusty patch bumble bee was listed as an endangered species, and other bees look like they may also follow suit. Pesticides, antibiotics, pollution, warming, diseases, and meadows turned into farm fields have put bees under a lot of pressure. We need for act now, and quickly, to save them. Without bees, there is no feasible backup plan for supporting the world's crops.
A World Bee Day
The point here is to have a global day to promote awareness of bees and international cooperation. Raising awareness and creating initiatives to help the bees are all in the right direction. The first step to helping them is to be unifying in thinking that they are important.
The date of May 20th was chosen for two main reasons. Firstly, May is the month when bees are the most active in the Northern hemisphere. The most flowers are out and pollinators are in their peak season. Secondly, May 20th is the birthday of Anton Janša (1734-1773). He started modern beekeeping, invented the stackable beehive, and was a bee expert. The Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa of Austria appointed him as a permanent teacher of beekeeping in Vienna. His books and teachings have been used extensively as a guide to beekeeping.
The Slovenian agricultural minister, Dejan Zidan, has announced that it is 95% likely that next year we will celebrate the first World Bee Day. It needs to be passed through the UN General Assembly first. You can still celebrate this year though, perhaps by reading about bees or planting some local plants in your yard for them.