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The bees and honeycomb

On December 21, 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) welcomed the UN’s decision to create a “World Bee Day” among other important resolutions. In the same tone, the United Nations also chose to celebrate a decade on family farming, a day to promote the awareness of the need to combat illegal fishing, and resolved to declare international years for camelids and artisanal fisheries and aquaculture.

From now on, May 20 will mark World Bee Day.

And 2019 will mark the beginning of the UN Decade of Family Farming, drawing more attention to the people who produce more than 80% of the world’s food but whose own members, paradoxically, are often the most vulnerable to hunger.

2024, meanwhile, will be the International Year of Camelids.

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday approved three new resolutions that task FAO with leading organizational and information-sharing roles. Not only do pollinators, smallholders and camelids contribute directly to food security, but they are key levers for conserving biodiversity, another cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals. Earlier this month, the General Assembly had also proclaimed an international day to celebrate the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and an international year to promote artisanal fisheries and aquaculture.

World Bee Day

Bees and other pollinators – including butterflies, bats and hummingbirds – allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce.

May 20 has now been chosen for the annual day as it is the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native Slovenia – which led the push for the celebration –  and praised the animal for its ability to work so hard while needing so little attention.

The honeybee in particular has been a workhorse, not only as a pollinator able to visit around 7,000 flowers a day but also as a provider of honey – coveted for millennia as food and medicine – and for offering livelihood opportunities requiring little capital or land ownership. FAO has included training in beekeeping in multiple rural development projects from Azerbaijan to Niger and is leading the assembly of a data base on pollination services around the world. Today, pollinators have an additional contribution to make to food security as they not only foster plant life but serve as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signalling the health of local ecosystems. Invasive insects, pesticides, land-use change and monocropping practices that may reduce available nutrients all pose threats to bee colonies.

So, who will be celebrating the World Bee Day with us next May 20?

 

Adapted from FAO World Bee Day

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