I reprise this post every year on this day, and today it just happens to fall on Saturday, so I can make World Bee Day our Saturday Surprise! Today is World Bee Day and I cannot think of another species that deserves its own day of celebration more than bees! Quite literally, our lives depend on bees, and the bee population has been in serious decline for years now. Bee kind … plant some bee-friendly flowers this week as a special treat for these fuzzy little guys, k? And PLEASE … keep the chemicals out of the garden, the yard, and anywhere else you might be tempted to use them.
While every critter, every plant has its place in the ecosystem on planet earth, there is perhaps none more important than the bee. Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities. Pollination is, however, a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems. Nearly 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.
To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the United Nations designated May 20th as World Bee Day. The goal is to strengthen measures aimed at protecting bees and other pollinators, which would significantly contribute to solving problems related to the global food supply and eliminate hunger in developing countries.
As it was told to me by a dear friend, a Slovenian beekeeper by the name of Boštjan Noč was driving home one day, listening to a program about “World Days” and their meanings, and he wondered why bees did not have their own day. After all, as important as they are, surely they deserved a day as much as any. As President of the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, Noč was in a position to rally the others and launch the World Bee Day Initiative.
The initiative was supported by the Slovenian Government, which strove to make it happen. It took some time … three years, to be exact, but finally on November 17th 2017, the resolution was unanimously backed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, thus designating May 20th as World Bee Day. The initiative was supported by all UN states, while 115 countries also acted as co-sponsors, including major countries such as the U.S., Canada, China, Russia, India, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and all EU Member States.
Why May 20th? Because May 20th is the birth date of Anton Janša (1734–1773), a Slovenian beekeeper, the pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the greatest authorities on the subject of bees. The Austrian Empress Maria Theresa appointed him to the post of permanent teacher of apiculture at the new School of Beekeeping in Vienna. He became well known even before his death in 1773. After 1775, all state beekeeping teachers had to teach the subject in accordance with his teachings and methods.
So, now that you know the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ behind World Bee Day, what can we do to help the bees? For one thing, we can plant bee-friendly flowers in our gardens, and … don’t mow down those dandelions and clover … bees love those, and frankly, I think they are just as beautiful as any hothouse-bred flowers! Another is we can help force companies like Monsanto, Dow, Bayer and others to stop using bee-killing pesticides on their crops. How? First, stop buying their products. I’m not a fan of buying organic produce, for it is over-priced and doesn’t keep as long, but … if that’s what it takes, then so bee it. You’ll find some other ideas and suggestions on the World Bee Day website … be sure to check it out, for there is a wealth of information there, including lists of bee-friendly (honey) flowers and much more.
I don’t know about other countries, but in Slovenia some beekeepers decorate their bee hives with some fun artwork …
And speaking of coincidence, as I began writing this, I reached for my coffee cup and realized I was drinking out of one of my favourites … no comments about the overflowing ashtray, please!I think the words of Mr. Noč speak as well as any I can offer ….
“I believe that we all agree that every human being on this planet deserves food every day. We have to produce more food every day, and every day more food is dependent on pollinators – with honey bees in the lead. Talking about reducing global hunger without ensuring the conditions for the survival of bees and other pollinators would simply be like throwing sand in people’s eyes!
It is time for everyone to listen to bees, in particular, leaders and decision-makers. From today on, 20 May will be a worldwide celebration of bees and beekeepers. I believe that – with the proclamation of World Bee Day – the world will begin to think more broadly about bees, in particular in the context of ensuring conditions for their survival, and thus for the survival of the human race.” – Boštjan Noč
And, I thought a cute bee video might bee just the thing to wrap up this post!