We all depend on the survival of bees
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. Not only do pollinators contribute directly to food security, but they 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 recent COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the beekeeping sector affecting the production, the market and as a consequence, the livelihoods of beekeepers.
This year, World Bee Day will therefore focus on bee production and good practices adopted by beekeepers to support their livelihoods and deliver good quality products.
To mark the Day, a virtual event - under the theme "Bee Engaged" - will highlight the importance of traditional knowledge related to beekeeping, the use of bee-derived products and services, and their importance in achieving the SDGs. Join us on 20 May from 12.00 pm to 1.30 pm (CET) by visiting our dedicated page. (Source originally published)
We need to act now
Bees are under threat. 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. (Source originally published)
Did you know:
- Bees pollinate a third of what we eat and play a vital role in sustaining the planet’s ecosystems.
- Some 84% of the crops grown for human consumption need bees or other insects to pollinate them to increase their yields and quality.
- Bee pollination not only results in a higher number of fruits, berries or seeds, it may also give a better quality of produce.
- In agro-ecosystems, pollinators are essential for orchard, horticultural and forage production, as well as the production of seed for many root and fibre crops.
- Pollinators such as bees, birds and bats affect 35 percent of the world's crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, plus many plant-derived medicines.
- It has been estimated that at least 20 genera of animals other than honeybees provide pollination services to the world's most important crops.
- For human nutrition, the benefits of pollination include not just abundance of fruits, nuts and seeds, but also their variety and quality; the contribution of animal-pollinated foodstuffs to human nutritional diversity, vitamin sufficiency and food quality is substantial.
Crops produce optimally with a suite of pollinators possibly including, but not limited to, managed honeybees. A diverse assemblage of pollinators, with different traits and responses to ambient conditions, is one of the best ways of minimizing risks due to climatic change. The "insurance" provided by a diversity of pollinators ensures that there are effective pollinators not just for current conditions, but for future conditions as well. Resilience can be built in agroecoystems through biodiversity. (Source)
Further reading :
- Resources from FAO on pollination
- "Buzzing with life" - or all you need to know about bees (UNDP)
- Bee-ing grateful to our pollinators
- The power of pollinators: why more bees means better food
- Why we need bees for a nutritious future (FAO)
- Money from honey
- Declining bee populations pose threat to global food security and nutrition
- Honey production in Guatemala: sweet success
- Press Release: Pollinators Vital to Our Food Supply Under Threat
- FAO's Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture
- Infographics by FAO
- TARGET: Zero Hunger - The Power of Pollinators: Why More Bees Means Better Food
- IOM: Syrian Beekeeper Extracts Honey and Hope from Bees in Turkey
- Bees double the coffee harvest in Guatemala
- 7 fruits and veggies that depend on bees
- Get inspired by bees!
- Learn all about honey and all the different products a bee hive can give you!