While beekeepers around the world make a living from the golden honey they produce, buzzing bees also play a key role in pollinating 87 of the world’s 115 major food crops. On World Bee Day, May 20, let’s focus on the important role honeybees, pollinators, play in nature and in promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

sowing awareness

Zaid Sa’ad has a degree in media and communications, but he has been working as a farmer and beekeeper in Al Qurnah, Iraq.

“Our community has an indescribable relationship to our land; our fathers and grandfathers were farmers too, and our work and life cycles on these farms are interdependent,” he said.

His goal is to bring awareness to the importance of farms in this impoverished area. So he set up beekeeping and farming groups on Facebook and WhatsApp, and disseminated information on social media to transfer knowledge to local farmers through ILO occupational safety and health training.

“Our work in agriculture promotes economic opportunity, security and self-reliance, it makes us independent,” he said.

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support beekeepers

Gulhayo Khaydarova from Durmont, Uzbekistan, has been beekeeping for 14 years and her bees are famous throughout the village for the honey they produce. Traditions and secrets of beekeeping are passed down from generation to generation, she said.

But last winter’s plummeting temperatures killed off most of her bees. Even the most experienced beekeepers suffer from this loss.

To make up for her loss, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization provided her family with modern beekeeping equipment and 20 new beehives.

Today, her honey production has increased, providing her family with a more sustainable livelihood.

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Break down gender barriers

“Bees are very intelligent insects,” says Ligia Elena Moreno Veliz of Venezuela. Once terrified of bees, through an FAO scholarship, she now runs a thriving business specializing in queen bee breeding and is passing on her knowledge to others.

She also shattered the glass ceiling. Today, while only four of the community’s 30 beekeepers are women, the taboo has now been lifted, she said.

At the same time, she added, climate change is cause for concern. Climate instability, changes in tree flowering times, and pollution have led to new behavioral patterns for bees to adapt to changes in flowering time.

To meet this challenge, Ligia Elena and her colleagues planted new trees to attract bees again.

“Beekeeping is my way of life. It’s my family’s livelihood and it’s something I want my daughters to continue doing in the future,” she said.

sweet pride

Betty Ayikoru, a mother of four from Arua district in Uganda, is a farmer, local councilor and beekeeper.

“That’s how I make a living,” she said.

She works with a business called Honey Pride Arua. The social enterprise was founded by Sam Aderubo and is supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

Like many others, her life has improved thanks to skills training and the sustainable marketplace the business provides.

Now, more than 1,700 farmers keep bees on the apiary, which they sell for “sweet pride” at harvest time.

“By engaging farmers, we provide them with alternative employment opportunities,” Adrubeau said. “If farmers understand beekeeping as a business, it will improve their livelihoods.”

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Bee Biosecurity

Ensuring the health of bees is an objective of FAO, especially given the threats faced by bees, including unsustainable agriculture, indiscriminate use of pesticides and intensive monoculture production.

Pollination is critical to maintaining plant biodiversity and the survival of the world’s ecosystems, with around 75 percent of crops – those that produce fruit and other seeds for human consumption – at least partially dependent on pollination, including bees, according to the FAO. Pollinators.

Pollinator-friendly practices include crop rotation and diversity, reducing pesticide use and restoring and protecting their habitats. Even precision farming tools and innovations can protect bees, the agency said.

To help better protect bees, the agency hosted and co-organized the 2nd International Symposium on Biosecurity in Beekeeping this Thursday, allowing participants to learn about the latest developments in bee biosecurity and the application of relevant international organizations in different fields Initiatives to ensure the health of bees.

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Tribute to bees around the world

Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar said: “World Bee Day makes a major contribution to raising awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators and to promoting international cooperation to protect them. “

She said Slovenia launched World Bee Day in 2016 at the FAO Regional Conference for Europe and has created more than 300 pollinator projects with partners on all continents.

The United Nations is marking World Bee Day with a global event hosted by FAO, highlighting the importance of these hardworking pollinators.

Under the theme of pollinator-friendly agricultural production, the event drew attention to the threats to these insects and the need to address them.

“Protecting bees and other pollinating insects is critical to safeguarding agricultural production, food security, ecosystem restoration and plant health,” said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.

As beekeeper Lija Elena puts it, “Bees are very intelligent insects. They are beautiful animals.”

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