World Bee Day is observed on May 20th, as designated by the United Nations.
Today, the world honours the efforts of one of the most hardworking species on the planet. They undoubtedly work hard, as evidenced by the simile “as busy as a bee.”
Slovenia proposed that the United Nations (UN) proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day. On 20 December 2017, following three years of international efforts, the UN Member States unanimously approved Sloveniaâ€™s proposal and 20 May was proclaimed World Bee Day.
This year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations will celebrate World Bee Day through a virtual event, under the theme â€œBee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systemsâ€.
For scientific classification, bees fall under Class Insecta and Superfamily Apoidea.
This insect has five eyes and six legs, according to the Texas A&M Honey Bee Lab. Bees live in a large family group called colony and a full-sized colony contains an average of 60,000 individual bees per the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences of the University of Arizona.
The colony is governed by the Queen Bee. The Noble Research Institute says the queen bee can live up to five years and her role is to fill the hive with eggs.
Oblivious to this, here are five things to know about the Bee.
What bees do
The bee is among the pollinator animals that carry pollen from one flower to another, which enables the production of fruits, nuts and seeds. The FAO of the United Nations says their work contributes to food security and nutrition.
Together with wild pollinators, bees play a major role in maintaining biodiversity, ensuring the survival and reproduction of many plants, supporting forest regeneration, promoting sustainability and adaptation to climate change, and improving the quantity and quality of agricultural productions.
Honeybees are used to pollinate about 50 crops across South Africa, including sunflower seeds and subtropical fruit found in the northern region of South Africa, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
“Nearly 90% of the worldâ€™s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75% of the worldâ€™s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land. Not only do pollinators contribute directly to food security, but they are key to conserving biodiversity,” UN reports.
Not all bees produce honey
According to the Noble Research Institute, less than 5 percent of bee species make honey.
Only honey bees and stingless bees produce enough honey to make it worth harvesting. Bumble bee hives may have a small amount, about one to two teaspoons. Bumble bees.
There are over 20,000 known bee species in the world, and 4,000 of them are native to the United States, the United States Geological Survey says. There are honey bees, bumble bees and sting bees.
Honey bees include Rock bee (Apis dorsata), Little bee (Apis florea), Indian hive bee / Asian bee (Apis cerana indica), European bee / Italian bee (Apis mellifera) and Dammer Bee.
African honey bee is native to central and southern Africa.
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) notes that the Rock bee produces about 36 Kg honey per comb per year, Little bee produces about half a kilo of honey per year per hive.
While the Indian hive bee provides an average honey yield of 6-8 kg per colony per year, â€‹â€‹the average production per colony of the European bee is 25-40 kg. The Dammer Beeâ€™s honey yield per hive per year is 100 gms.
Bees provide humans food, jobs and income
Honey produced by bees serves as food to humans and it contains antioxidants which helps with blood sugar levels. Also, honey contains certain enzymes that act as a catalyst in the digestion process of humans. It is used as a dressing for wounds and ulcers to speed up the skinâ€™s healing process.
Honey is used to remedy sore throat and cough, sometimes used to treat digestive issues such as diarrhea and helps with retentive memory, according to Healthline Media.
Because of bees, several individuals have stable jobs that enable them to earn income. Beekeepers keep honey bees and beekeeping is a global activity. In Slovenia, there are 11,293 beekeepers, 15,420 apiaries (where bees are kept) and more than 210,000 bee colonies.
Slovenia ranks at the very top of the EU Member States with regards to the number of beekeepers per capita. The Carniolan bee is protected under the Livestock Farming Act in Slovenia.
In Radovljica, there is the Apiculture Museum and the Slovenian Beekeepersâ€™ Association. This is according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food in Slovenia.
In terms of pollination services offered by beekeepers to the growers, the deciduous fruit industry is the most and well documented in Africa.
This industry has an annual turnover of more than R13 billion and creates over 180 000 job opportunities (HORTGRO 2016), according to Dr Tlou Masehela, a scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
In Ghana, Bees for Development Ghana works with many cashew growers, who have found that keeping bees in or near their orchards improves yields greatly. They do not only engage in beekeeping but bewaxing.
Wax is a fatty substance secreted by bees used to build the honeycomb and seal the cells. The wax of bees is used cosmetics skin care products.
Â Not all bees sting
It is believed that all bees sting but not all bees can sting, says Noble Research Institute.Â Male bees cannot sting. The stinger, or sting, is a modified egg-laying device and only females have them.
However, despite having a stinger, the females of many bee species actually cannot sting. It is reported that bees tend to sting to defend their nest.
Adult bees donâ€™t live for a long time
Bees don’t have a relatively long life. The aforementioned Institute further provides that solitary bees live only a few weeks. During this period, they mate, build nests and produce offspring.
Honey and bumble bee workers and males live about six weeks. The workers spend half their time working on the hive and the other half foraging for pollen and nectar. The queens live longer. Bumble bee queens live up to one year, and honey bee queens can live up to five years.
Meanwhile, Professor Godfred Darko, an academic researcher at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology in Kumasi, says there remain natural challenges to the expansion of the honey industry.
He has noted that the growing impact of climate change is another risk to bees, creating harsher environments for the insects and their habitats to thrive.
In Libya, OpenDemocracy reported that, according to estimates from the independent Libyan Organization for Beekeeping, beekeepers in Tarhuna and Al-Jafra plain lost at least 2,000 out of around 4,500 bee colonies last summer due to heatwaves.
Source: The Independent Ghana