The 20th May marks annual World Bee Day and is the birth date of the pioneer of bee keeping, Anton Jansa, who was born in 1734. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about the importance of bees and beekeeping in our ecosystem. In his early years Anton Jansa was a very talented painter but growing up in a family that owned over a hundred beehives, his fascination for bees took him in another direction. Some of his most notable work includes: inventing a new beehive design, defining the roles of drones and queen bees and perfecting techniques for the production of buckwheat honey.
Why are bees under threat?
Did you know more than 75% of the world’s food crops depend on pollination? Bee’s play an essential role in keeping us and the planet healthy. But bees and other pollinators are under threat for the following reasons:
Intensive agriculture – Agriculture and honey bees go hand in hand as they are the most important pollinators for wild plants and crops. Food crop plants depend on bees to move pollen which allows them to produce seeds and fruits. Insect pollination contributes to an estimated £150 billion per year globally!
Pesticides – It is a common misconception that beekeeping is a natural process but beekeeping has become heavily industrialized in recent years. Pesticides are used to fumigate beehives to ward off disease. As you can imagine, moving bees from field to field and using these pesticides can be a huge cause of stress for them which leads to colony collapse disorder.
Colony collapse disorder is an abnormal phenomenon where the majority of bees disappear from a colony, leaving the queen bee and immature bees behind. This phenomenon was first reported in 2006 and luckily cases of CCD have been declining over the past five years. There are have been many theories about the cause of CCD but here are a few:
- Pesticide poisoning
- Stress due to transportation to different locations
- Inadequate forage
- New or emerging diseases
Climate Change – According to recent research, bees will not be able to adjust to climate change as bees don’t adapt to fast paced changes. Bees are dying from the increase in temperature and it is estimated that they are losing 200 miles of their liveable range.
What can you do to help?
Grow plants that need pollination – One of the largest threats to bees is a lack of a safe habitat. You don’t need a lot of space to create a small bee garden. Plant flower plants in your garden or even on your window sill so the bees can do what they do best and get pollinating!
Avoid using insecticides – I don’t really need to explain this one. Bees are tiny creatures and have very sensitive systems so switch to organic products that can do the same job without hurting our tiny friends.
Teaching future generations about the importance of bees – Inspire the next generation about why we need bees to keep the world a happy and healthy place!
Honey bees pollinate apples, almonds, kiwis, raspberries, broccoli, chilli peppers, strawberries and so much more! Let us play our part and not be part of the bee decline problem. Happy World Bee Day!
By Pooja Depala