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by Wayne Campbell

“The bee is more honoured than other animals, not because she labours, but because she labours for others.”
– St. John Chrysostom.

Did you know there is a link between bee pollination and the crops which are available for human consumption? World Bee Day is celebrated on the birth anniversary of Slovenian beekeeper Anton Janša- the pioneer of modern beekeeping. Born on 20 May 1734, he came from a long line of beekeepers and was the first beekeeping teacher at the Viennese imperial court.

The United Nations (UN) declares that bees are of the main pollinators in the ecosystem. Pollination is, however, a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems.

Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75 per cent of the world’s food crops and 35 per cent of global agricultural land.

In addition to contributing directly to food security, bee pollinators are key to conserving biodiversity.

To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated 20 May 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. We all depend on pollinators and it is, therefore, crucial to monitor their decline and halt the loss of biodiversity.

Beekeeping is a widespread and global activity, with millions of beekeepers depending on bees for their livelihoods and well-being.

Together with wild pollinators, bees play a major role in maintaining biodiversity, ensuring the survival and reproduction of many plants, supporting forest regeneration, promoting sustainability and adaptation to climate change, improving the quantity and quality of agricultural productions.

This year the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will celebrate World Bee Day through a virtual event, under the theme ‘Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems’ Time for Action

Bees are under threat. Bees are known to be one of the hardest working creatures on the planet and immensely benefit the people and the natural ecosystem around them. Bees carry pollen grains from one flower to another and help in the production of fruits, nuts, and seeds, contributing significantly to food security and nutrition. Present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts.

Close to 35 percent of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and about 17 percent of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats, face extinction globally. If this trend continues, nutritious crops, such as fruits, nuts and many vegetable crops will be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn and potatoes, eventually resulting
in an imbalanced diet.

Intensive farming practices, land-use change, mono-cropping, pesticides and higher temperatures associated with climate change all pose problems for bee populations and, by extension, the quality of food we grow. Governments have a critical role to play regarding the preservations of our bees.

This can be done through various avenues such as the strengthening the participation of local communities in decision-making, in particular that of indigenous people, who know and respect ecosystems and biodiversity; increasing collaboration between national and international organisations, organisations and academic and research networks to monitor and evaluate pollination services.

Jamaica’s Bee Industry

The Beekeeping Industry in Jamaica is the fastest growing of the subsectors in agriculture at this time.

Jamaica’s apiculture industry is estimated at $2billion with an estimated return on investments at 23 per cent. Jamaica possesses a honeybee derived from three races of the Aphis mellifera spp.

These races include the Italian honeybee (Aphis mellifera lingustica,) Caucasian honeybee (Aphis mellifera caucasica) and the German black bees (Aphis mellifera mellifera).

In sourcing stock for the establishment of a new apiary, it is imperative that careful selection be undertaken in order to ensure genetic qualities of any particular line. Not all honeybees possess the same level of genetic characteristic and poor quality queens produce poor quality off springs.

Bee Engaged

The International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations state that bees provide humans with valuable hive products (such as honey, wax, propolis, pollen and royal jelly) and ecosystem services, including pollination, apitherapy and apitourism. They also can play important economic, cultural and social roles.

Together with wild pollinators, bees play a major role in maintaining biodiversity, ensuring the survival and reproduction of many plants, supporting forest regeneration, promoting sustainability and adaptation to climate change, improving the quantity and quality of agricultural productions. We must never forget the importance bees play in our survival as humans. Happy World Bee Day.

In the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, the hum of the bee is the voice of the garden.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues. waykam@yahoo.com @WayneCamo #ilovebees #ClimateAction #WorldBeeDay Follow my blog at www.wayaine.blogspot.com

The post #BTColumn – Celebrating the diversity of bees appeared first on Barbados Today.

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