Bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, bats, birds, and various insects are essential for the production of three out of four of the most important crops produced globally as food and feed for humans and livestock.
But 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.
On 20th December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly declared 20th May as World Bee Day in order to create awareness on the essential roles that honey bees and other pollinators play in maintaining the health of human beings and the planet, through the myriad of essential services that they provide. Celebrated since 2018, this day also provides an opportunity for the global community to focus on the stressors that bees encounter and ensures that we prioritize efforts to reduce their effects.
The theme for this year’s World Bee Day – “Bee engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems” – aims to raise awareness of the importance of the wide variety of bees (over 20, 0000 species) and sustainable beekeeping systems, the threats and challenges they face, and their contribution to livelihoods and food systems.
As part of these celebrations the Social Insects Research Group of the Department of Zoology and Entomology will host a World Bee Day event on Thursday 19th May between 12h00 to 14h00 in the Piazza on the Hatfield campus.
For more information about bees and related research on pollinators at the University of Pretoria you are welcome to contact the Social Insects Research Group or follow it on Facebook and Instagram.
You can also join the following virtual events organised to celebrate this year’s World Bee Day: