May 18, 2019
The buzz on world bee day
By Laura Bardot
Many times, the hardest worker in agriculture goes unseen and unheard. They don’t ask for praise, yet their toil pays off by the delicious spoonful. Their commute to work is to the nearest pollinating flower and they answer to a true queen bee. These laborers can be seen buzzing around in the spring and might frighten some. They are essential to food and agriculture production and without them we would not have one-third of the food produced.
May 20 is World Bee Day to honor bees throughout the world. This initiative was started in 2015 by the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association to bring light to these hardy insects. In 2017, the United Nations unanimously voted to pass the resolution declaring May 20 as World Bee Day. But why May 20? The Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association acknowledged this day because the northern hemisphere blooms into spring and the bees start buzzing as the southern hemisphere enters the fall season and hives are harvested for honey. May 20 is also the birthday of Anton Janša (1734-1773), the pioneer of modern beekeeping.
Bees pollinate as many as 170,000 species of plants. One single honeybee can produce 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. That means to make one pound of honey, a bee must visit at least 2 million flowers and fly 50,000 miles. Worker bees are always female, and they outnumber the male (drone) bees in a hive by about 100 to 1. The Alberta Beekeepers Commission shares more fun facts about pollinators here.
Agricultural production depends on pollinators and has increased 300% in the last 50 years. Pollinators bring a large price tag too; the value of global crops relying on pollination is estimated between $235-577 billion dollars. Many crops are ideal for bee foraging and habitat, including canola, which experiences higher yields through more uniform pods and seeds, and greater seed weight. With the commercialized honey industry growing, bees can almost be considered livestock with their increased value and generating income. Clearly, without the bees, there would be no food for the future.
Here are some ideas to celebrate World Bee Day:
- Plant bee-friendly plants like purple coneflowers, New England aster, lavender, goldenrod, and black-eyed Susans. Canadians can get a free seed kit from Bees Matter.
- Set up a bee nesting box near your backyard or porch
- Avoid mowing grass during the peak flourishing hours for plants
- Purchase from your local honey producer
- Share on social media the importance of pollinators
To learn more about World Bee Day visit, worldbeeday.org.