World Bee Day 2023
A bee feeds from crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii) flowers (Connor Blades, 2021)

World Bee Day is dedicated to honouring and raising awareness of bees and other pollinators. It is celebrated on May 20th, the birth date of Anton Jansa. Anton, born in 1734, pioneered the field of beekeeping and taught apiculture at the Habsburg court in Vienna. He revolutionised the design of beehives, changing them into stackable units.

Bees are essential contributors to our planet’s health and biodiversity. Through pollination, they help with the reproduction of countless plant species by transporting pollen between flowers. Some of these plants are important to us like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Around 75% of crops depend on pollinators to some extent, so a lot of the produce we reap is thanks to pollinators like bees. Unfortunately, the global bee population is threatened by pesticides, habitat loss, climate change, and diseases. Bees are a remarkably diverse group of insects, with around 20,000 described species, but bee diversity is in decline, with 25% fewer bee species found in recent years than prior to the 1990s.

Firefly on a Christmas candle (Senna alata) flower (Connor Blades, 2021)

It is important to remember that bees are not just honeybees. Honeybees are foremost in our brains when we imagine pollinators, but a wide variety of native wild bees that don’t produce honey also play a role in pollinating wild plants. Indeed, some wild bees are more effective than honeybees as pollinators of some crops. Neither should we forget that many other animals act as pollinators. Beetles, flies, hummingbirds, ants, butterflies, moths, wasps, lizards and bats all contribute to pollinating over 80% of the world’s flowering plants. As conscientious inhabitants of planet Earth, we have a responsibility to protect each of these vital animals. On this World Bee Day, let us do what we can for the bees and their colleagues. You can help protect these crucial species by:

  1. Planting a pollinator-friendly garden – promote native flowers and avoid using pesticides or opt for alternatives that do not harm beneficial insects;
  2. Using and supporting sustainable agriculture practices – diversifying crops and avoiding the constant use of harmful chemicals can help promote pollinator diversity which has benefits for agroecosystems;
  3. Creating insect habitats – insect hotels can be a great way to support native insects, many of which are pollinators and beneficial to your garden and the environment, and;
  4. Educating and advocating – talk about the importance of bees and pollinators in our ecosystems, share information about the challenges they face, and encourage others to take action as well.

Let’s make every day a Bee Day by appreciating and protecting these remarkably diverse animals. Together, we can ensure a future where pollinators thrive, ecosystems flourish, and our planet remains a vibrant and colourful place.

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