World Bee Day marked with virtual event

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has marked the 2020 World Bee Day with a virtual event highlighting the key role of pollinators for human food security and biodiversity.

Broadcast live on the web from the FAO headquarters in the Italian capital, the virtual conference was opened by FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu’s key remarks.

“Bees and other pollinators are fundamental to our lives, our food and nutrition security, our environment and our own evolution,” Qu said.

“Without bees, there would be no planet… they play a key role in maintaining a vibrant ecosystem, upon which our agriculture depends,” he stressed.

The conference continued with contributions by Slovenia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food Aleksandra Pivec, and by experts from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations.

They were followed by a debate among researchers and producers from various regions in the world on latest findings, good practices and field experiences, and innovative solutions to support beekeepers.

They addressed the threat pollinators are facing today, and also the impact of the current coronavirus pandemic on the sector.

Bees and other pollinators — such as other insects, 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, according to FAO.

“Changes in land use and landscape structure, plus intensive agricultural practices, monocultures, and use of pesticides have led to large-scale losses, fragmentation and degradation of bees and other pollinators’ habitats,” the organization said in a publication released for the event.

Climate change adds its negative impact to this challenging situation.

“Insects will likely make up the bulk of future biodiversity loss, with 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species — particularly bees and butterflies — facing extinction. Though to a lesser degree, vertebrate pollinators (16.5 percent) are also threatened with extinction globally,” the FAO warned.

Yet, it stressed, “the volume of agricultural production dependent on pollinators has increased by 300 percent in the last 50 years.”

Ensuring a greater diversity of pollinator habitats in both agricultural and urban settings, promoting biological pest control, and limiting the use of pesticides were among the solutions suggested by the UN agency and experts to protect and enhance pollinators, and support the sustainable development of beekeeping worldwide.

Being marked since 2018, the World Bee Day this year’s theme is “Bee Engaged” with a specific focus on bee production and good practices adopted by beekeepers to support their livelihoods and deliver good quality products.