orld Bee Day is celebrated annually on May 20.
Made official by the United Nations in 2017, it is a celebration of the important role bees play within our ecosystem, a campaign to raise awareness of the threats facing them, and an attempt to boost preservation efforts.
World Bee Day is one of a fast-growing list of UN days, many of which are designed to promote engagement in social and environmental issues of global consequence.
Humanitarian and health crises are recognised, such as the refugee crisis on June 20, or tuberculosis on March 24. Equality movements are forwarded, for example by International Women’s Day on March 8, and neurodiversity like autism (April 2), are brought into public consideration.
But May 20 is dedicated to bees
Why do we observe World Bee Day?
Like butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, bees are vital pollinators in our interdependent ecosystem. This means they transfer pollen between plants to enable fertilisation.
Pollination is a fundamental part of ecological survival. It’s the process by which nearly 90 per cent of the planet’s wildflowers are born, and more than 75 per cent of food crops depend on, at least partly.
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust calculated that pollination is worth £691 million to the UK economy.
Without bees, biodiversity would be reduced and the global food supply jeopardised. Not only would this drive up the price of fresh produce, but would most probably cause famine in poorer regions of the world, according to a number of wildlife organisations.
The possibility of bumblebee extinction is becoming increasingly realistic as a result of habitat loss, climate change, toxic pesticides and disease – much of which is tied to human activity.
As a result, the UN declared today World Bee Day in order to increase consciousness of, and combat, these dangers
How can I get involved?
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN organised a virtual discussion series – under the theme “Bee engaged!” – which is available for public viewing.
The series aims to educate viewers about the importance of traditional beekeeping practices, the use of bee-derived products, and their importance in the sustainability goals.
How many species of bees are there?
There are around 270 species of wild bees in the UK, including 24 species of bumblebee, but just one species of honeybee.
Four of the most common bumblebee species in the UK are the tree bumblebee, the red-tailed bumblebee, the white-tailed bumblebee, and the common carder bee.
How do bees make honey?
Honeybees drink nectar (a sugary liquid produced by flowers) and store it in their stomachs. Enzymes in the stomach break down the sucrose into simpler glucose and fructose molecules and also kill bacteria.
The honeybees then travel back to their hive where they regurgitate the nectar. Worker bees will pass the nectar to each other to reduce its water levels until it becomes honey, which the bees then push into the wax chambers.
Why are bees in trouble?
Bee populations are declining for a number of reasons, including habitat loss as natural green spaces are being built upon. Climate change is also impacting bees’ habitats, and reducing the number of places where they can safely live, while the use of pesticides in farming is also harming bees.