Slovenia’s Ambassador Tadej Rupel says this special day aims to help save the declining bee population and promote Slovenia’s tradition of beekeeping
The UN has officially declared 20 May 2018 the first international World Bee Day. Originally initiated by the Slovenian Beekeeping Association and supported by the Slovenian government, World Bee Day aims to help save the declining bee population and promote Slovenia’s tradition of beekeeping.
On 20 May 2018 the world’s attention will for the first time be drawn to the importance of bees and other pollinators for the preservation of our environment and biodiversity. This day was declared World Bee Day by the UN General Assembly last December, to promote the preservation of bees and their importance to humanity. People all over the world will be invited to take concrete action to preserve and protect bee colonies.
Bees and other pollinators contribute significantly to pollination of flowering plants, affecting the world’s food security. One-third of all food produced in the world depends on pollination; a decrease in bee population would result in food production decline. Bees not only ensure food security but they also contribute to sustainable agricultural production, as pollination-dependent crops are an important source of income for small family-owned farms. Due to their role in the plant propagation process, bees are essential to ecological balance and biodiversity.
In the past 50 years, mainly because of changes in farming practices, we have been consistently eliminating many of the flowering plants much needed for bees’ survival. An increase of monocultures, modified and intensified technology for grassland processing, are causing habitats to shrink and are damaging conditions that bees need for their survival and development. Studies by the UN and the International Union of Conservation of Nature show that bee populations have significantly decreased, making them more and more endangered.
Humans have been drawn to honeybees since early history, mainly to harvest their honey. Slovenians have long been a nation of beekeepers. With every 200th inhabitant a beekeeper, Slovenia is one of the top countries in the world in terms of the number of beekeepers per capita. This rich beekeeping tradition resulted in a number of Slovenia’s unique peculiarities, such as painted beehive panels, bee houses and traditional beehives. An essential part of Slovenian cultural heritage are simple motifs from everyday life painted on beehive panels. At first, beekeepers placed these on beehives to distinguish them, but nowadays they are mostly used to make the apiaries more attractive.
Slovenians are most proud of the indigenous Slovenian bee species – Carniolan honey bee, Apis mellifera carnica, the second most widespread honeybee species in the world. Combined with unique beekeeping methods, Slovenia boasts high-quality honey of many different flavours – from basic flower and forest honey to acacia, linden, oilseed rape, chestnut and fir honey.
Bearing in mind the outlined interdependence of Slovenian people and honeybees, Slovenia is the only country in the EU to have introduced legal protection for its bees. It is also one of the first countries in the EU to prohibit the use of certain pesticides harmful to bees. In 2015 the Republic of Slovenia, at the initiative of the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, began procedures for declaration of World Bee Day and proposed a resolution underlining the importance of bees and other pollinators. This procedure was successfully concluded on 20 December 2017 with the adoption of the World Bee Day Resolution by the UN General Assembly.
May is the month with the greatest activity in the growth of bees in the northern hemisphere, while in the southern hemisphere it is harvest time and thus May is characterised as a month of honey. A pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the greatest experts on bees of the time, Anton Janša, was born in May. Celebrating World Bee Day in the month of swarming bee colonies and honey abundance, not to mention on the birthday of one of the greatest beekeepers in history, is the right time to remind ourselves of the importance of bees and bee products and to take action in protecting bees and consequently our environment.
With 20 May 2018 marking the first ever World Bee Day, this is also the perfect opportunity to explore Slovenia’s many beekeeping attractions and apian adventures. Api-tourism is focused on a sustainable approach to tourism, promoting green destinations, travel and apiculture. The Slovenian Beekeepers Association has developed trips that combine their rich beekeeping tradition with eco-friendly values, such as honey tasting trails, apitherapy tours, wellness retreats, and exploring Slovenia’s vast landscapes – from the Julian Alps to the Pannonian Basin – areas renowned for their diverse ecosystems.
World Bee Day, 20th May 2018
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