What is World Bee Day
World Bee Day is an annual event celebrated on May 20th to raise awareness about the importance of bees and other pollinators for our ecosystems and agriculture.
It was officially recognised by the United Nations in 2017, and its aim is to promote the conservation and protection of bees and other pollinators and their habitats.
Why have a day dedicated solely to bees?
Well, because humans' survival is dependent on these beautiful pollinators.
Whilst to most people bees are best well known for their creation of honey, their vibrant colours or maybe even their sting but bees play a much more important role in our ecosystems for 2 main reasons, our food and stabilising the eco-system
Pollination and food production
Bees are pollinators which means they help plants grow, breed and produce food.
According to API.cultural they pollinate over 66% of the world's crops and contribute to ⅓ of the food we eat, which means they are indispensable in fruit, vegetable and nut production
But they are also an essential element in meat and dairy production as livestock and reared on food that contains plant products such as alfalfa which is pollinated by bees.
Bees play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Bees use the hair on their bodies to carry large grains of pollen between plants which helps plants reproduce.
Honey bees in particular are the most efficient pollinator species in the world, and according to FlyingFlowers they can visit over 1500 flowers a day which helps keep trees and flowers alive and flourishing.
As the flowers that bees pollinate provide both food and habit for other wildlife, if bees disappeared many plants would die too and this would lead to habitat loss and subsequently species loss. Without bees, there would be a decline in biodiversity and the health of ecosystems.
If bees are so important, why are they at risk?
Unfortunately, bees are facing numerous threats:
As human populations continue to expand, natural habitats are being destroyed, which limits the availability of food and nesting sites for bees. The current rate of deforestation is 160,000 square kilometres a year which equates to a loss of around 1% of original forests a year.
Widely used in modern agriculture, they can be toxic to bees and can interfere with their ability to navigate and communicate with each other.
Diseases like colony collapse disorder are also taking a significant toll on bee populations. According to Business Insider, the bee species in the UK, Denmark and North America has dropped from 6.5 million in 1947 to only 2.5 million in 2019. Diseases like colony collapse disorder are also taking a significant toll on bee populations.
What Can you do to help on World Bee Day?
On World Bee Day or really any day of the year you can save these pollinators by
- Plant some bee-friendly flowers such as lavender and honeysuckle.
- Stop using pesticides in your own garden. Pesticides can be replaced with natural alternatives such as garlic or salt spray
- Let your garden get messy, skip mowing the lawn for a weekend. Long grass and even weeds are a great source of forage for bees
- Support local beekeepers by buying local honey, this supports the industry and helps protect the bees and their habitats
- Spread awareness, share information with those around you about the importance of bees and what they too can do to help
This World Bee Day take the time to celebrate bees and everything that they do for our planet.