I love the World Something Days because they gently remind us, once a year, what matters. For beekeepers and environmentalists around the world, there are a few days that are of particular interest. The International Day for Biological Diversity later this month and Pollinator Week here in the US every June, for example. But, of course, the most important one is World Bee Day, which is celebrated every May 20th - today, that is.
One may wonder, or at least I did, why any of the World Something Days fall on this specific day. Sometimes, as in the case of World Bee Day, there is a great story behind it, and often the United Nations decide on a day, as is the case for the International Day of Forests on March 21st or the World Soil Day on December 5th.
However, World Bee Day’s origin goes back to the 18th century and the European country of Slovenia. Slovenia is known for its caves, wine, and Ljubljana - the capital city that means “the Loved One” in English. Above all, Slovenia has a proud and long history of beekeeping, which is deeply rooted in their society. In fact, with just 2 million inhabitants, there are more than 10,000 beekeepers in Slovenia, who manage over 210,000 hives. If that same percentile was applied to the global population, there would be 35 million beekeepers or almost the population of Canada.
Anton Janša, Slovenia’s national beekeeping hero, born on May 20th, 1734, started beekeeping in the small village of Breznica and was the first royally appointed teacher of apiculture by Empress Maria Theresa. He published books on beekeeping and invented a new type of hive. In his memory, in 2018, the United Nations started celebrating World Bee Day thanks to the efforts of the government of Slovenia and Apimondia, the International Federation of Beekeeping Associations. Since then, every year on May 20th, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations hosts an event that brings people together from all over the world.
In 2022, celebrating and hurray’ing the bees and other pollinators is more important than ever. Why? Even though 90% of the world’s flowering plant species, 75% of the world’s food crops, and 35% of global agricultural land depend upon animal pollination, over a third of invertebrate pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, face extinction.
So what can we do to help a pollinator today? Let’s start by planting a large variety of native plants and buying honey from the local beekeeper. Not inspiring enough? Check out our Instagram for useful tips.
Today is World Bee Day - hurray! Let’s raise our glasses, flowers, and hive tools to the bees!