Bees are tiny yet one of the most hard-working creatures that play a significant role in human existence where it affects 35 percent of the world’s crop production according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Today marks the celebration of World Bee Day with the theme, “Bee Engaged: Celebrating The Diversity of Bees and Beekeeping Systems”. Last December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously voted to proclaim 20th of May every year as World Bee Day, its first commemoration took place in 2018.
It is truly amazing that these small little creatures are indeed flying miracles. Thus, it is critical to recognize their important contribution to our ecosystem.
Pollinators such as bees and other nectar-eating insects, birds, and even the nocturnal bats transport pollen from one stamen (male part of the flower) to the stigma (female part of the flower). This pollen movement is critical for the production of seeds, young plants, fruits and vegetables that we eat contributing to nutritional needs and food security for the human race to survive.
Beekeeping has been an essential livelihood for certain people that helps boost the bee population, in an account by Jenny Castano of the Convention on Biological Diversity regarding beekeeping as a source of income, she stated that "the honey bee is the most widely managed pollinator in the world, with 81 million hives generating 1.6 million tonnes of honey yearly." She also emphasized the importance of beekeeping for local development because it takes less investment with low business risk.
There are approximately more than 20,000 species of bees, but only less than 5% of bee species make honey, and only honey bees and stingless bees produce enough honey worth harvesting. Bees make honey out of nectar, it is delivered bee to bee in the hive and is passed mouth-to-mouth until its moisture content is reduced from about 70% to 20%, this dehydration process changes the nectar into honey which bees store into the cells of the honeycomb capped with beeswax. Bees do this as a way of storing food for the rest of the year, when they are unable to forage and there are fewer flowers from which to gather food.
Bees keep our biodiversity healthy by carrying pollen from blossom to flower, fertilizing a new plant that produces seeds, ensuring that the environment continues to grow. Pollination of indigenous trees and native plants by bees aids forest regeneration.
But sadly due to Climate Change, number of bees are declining worldwide. Leah Duran from Conservation International, an organization that combines fieldwork with innovations in science, policy, and finance to protect the land and the sea, said that climate change is causing habitat loss for bees because they failed to migrate to cooler areas to establish new hives. If a temperature becomes hotter, there is a tendency for bees to acquire parasites that are threatening their existence which is a result of climate change and global warming.
According to a report from ABC News, bees cover 170 billion USD in crops worldwide. Their report also revealed, according to data, that bee populations are declining each year, accounting for a 40.7% decrease.
Everyone on earth is interconnected, if bees continue to decline, the food price could increase which could threaten food supply and eventually biodiversity.
As we celebrate "World Bee Day", may we learn about environmental protection and how everyone, like the working bees in their hive, has a duty to play and must work together to flourish in this world. May we nurture those generations behind us by teaching environmental consciousness toward the battle for climate justice and ensuring that our actions set an example for the betterment of our future.