Human beings would perish If all bees die

Bees produce precious human food; participate in cross-pollination that ensure we get quality sweet fruits, and plenty of nuts, and seeds.

When one talks about bees we think of sweet honey, yet the greatest yet rarely known contribution of bees is in pollination. The economic, social and environmental value of pollination is between 10 and 20 times the total value of honey. Out of oblivion, we may laugh at the thought of World Bee Day. Yet knowledge reminds us that if the bee and other pollinators were eradicated, it would not take long before humanity followed suit. Bees, small as they are hold a record among the hardest workers among fauna. The organised systems among bee colonies and daily work routine is a lesson on the strength in teamwork. 

Pollinators such as bees and other insects, wasps, birds, and bats, contribute to 35 per cent of the world’s total crop production, through their pollinating function in 87 of 115 leading food crops worldwide.

Beyond food, bees and other pollinators also play an important role in the provision of medicines and indirectly contribute to the production of biofuels, fibres like cotton and linen and construction materials. They produce precious human food, participate in cross-pollination that ensure we get quality sweet fruits, plenty of nuts and seeds. Bees and beekeeping systems goes far beyond the production of honey and contributes to the achievement of many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Bees not only produce food but create employment.

In Kenya, about 100,000 people are directly employed in beekeeping. Sadly, the greatest threat to the well-being of the bee is humanity through our activities that endanger the life of the bee, hence – World Bee Day – in which the globe pauses for a while to salute the bee.

This year’s theme – ‘Bee Engaged – Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems’ calls upon humanity to honour this great insect by adopting systems that make bees comfortable and prolong their lifespan and subsequently contribute to a better planet. The day also seeks to raise awareness that activities like overuse and misuse of harmful pesticides and fuels, destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats, ecosystem degradation, deforestation and removal of dead trees, climate change and spread of invasive species affect bees.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) owes the achievement of its mandate – “To defeat hunger” on this insect and other pollinators considering that 75 per cent of the world’s crops that produce fruits and seeds for human consumption depend, at least in part, on pollinators for sustained production, yield and quality.

For this reason FAO has over the years taken lead in creating awareness on the important role played by the bee. FAO is working - with the government, organisations, civil society and local communities to take action to protect bees and other pollinators. A good example is the local communities in Kirisia forest, Mukogodo and Mount Kulal Ecosystems who are using their traditional knowledge to install beehives in areas set aside for forest restoration, protecting tree seedlings from elephants and wildlife while also contributing to the income and food security of the wider community. This year, the World Bee Day celebrations will be held at Nyayo Gardens in Nakuru.

Ms. Mucavi is the FAO Kenya Representative

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