Today marks the celebration of World Bee Day, a global initiative aimed at spreading awareness about the vital importance of bees. Despite their small size, bees play an enormous role in our environment, and their significance cannot be underestimated. They are responsible for pollinating a staggering 90 percent of the world’s wildflower plants and contribute to 35 percent of global crop production. In this article, we delve into the ecological and economic benefits that bees bring to our lives.
In the heart of Thimphu, at Pelkhil School, teachers and students have wholeheartedly embraced the art of beekeeping. They diligently manage approximately half a million apis mellifera bees housed in eleven beehives. Each week, they conduct thorough health check-ups to ensure the well-being of their buzzing companions.
“Right now, we are cleaning the beehive, and this task can only be performed when the temperature is high. Opening the box during colder periods could disrupt the entire process. We must remove the queen cup to distribute the population of male bees, known as drones, and optimize honey production,” explains Bali Raj Subba, a member of the school’s agriculture group.
Bees require a peaceful environment, devoid of external threats, and rich in vegetation to thrive. Unfortunately, they face continuous dangers from human activities such as the introduction of invasive insects, pesticide use, and changes in land use.
Beyond the sweet golden nectar that sweetens our food, bees have long supported humanity in numerous ways. Not only do they provide us with honey, but they also enhance the production of fruits and crops through their pollination efforts. This makes beekeeping a promising income-generating activity in Bhutan.
“People rear bees not only for honey production but also for pollination. By improving pollination, the productivity of fruiting trees and other crops is significantly enhanced, resulting in better quality products,” shares Guna Raj Kuikel, a teacher at Pelkhil School.
Beekeeping is a thriving industry in Bhutan, offering potential income opportunities for its people. With plans to increase the number of beehives, the Department of Livestock aims to boost honey production to approximately 81 metric tons over the next decade, generating a substantial income of over Nu 237 million.
“In Bhutan, we have three to four thousand households engaged in beekeeping, with 249 farmers involved in commercial beekeeping. We currently have 15,000 beehives, and our plan is to increase this number to 20,000 within the next five to ten years,” reveals Tauchu Rabgay, the chief of the Department of Livestock.
Moreover, the department aims to focus on the production of valuable bee substances such as propolis, royal jelly, and comb honey. These products possess medicinal properties and are in high demand. To ensure sustainable honey extraction, the department is exploring the implementation of a cutting-edge technology called flow hive, which allows for honey extraction without harming the honeycomb.
On a global scale, the United Nations designated May 20th as World Bee Day, aiming to raise awareness about the significance of pollinators, the threats they face, and their contribution to sustainable development. This year’s theme, “Bee Engaged in Pollinator-Friendly Agricultural Production,” calls for worldwide action to support agricultural practices that promote a friendly environment for pollinators. It emphasizes the utmost importance of safeguarding bees and other pollinators through evidence-based agricultural production techniques.
As we celebrate World Bee Day, let us remember the irreplaceable role that bees play in our ecosystems. Their tireless efforts and pollination services ensure the growth of our crops and the diversity of our natural habitats. By protecting bees and promoting bee-friendly practices, we are safeguarding our food security and fostering sustainable development.
It is crucial that we all contribute to the preservation of bees and their habitats. Individuals can create pollinator-friendly spaces in their gardens by planting native flowers and avoiding the use of harmful pesticides. Communities can establish beekeeping initiatives and educate others about the importance of bees. Governments and organizations can implement policies and programs that promote bee conservation and support beekeepers.
The impact of bees extends beyond honey production and agricultural benefits. They are an indicator species, meaning their health and population reflect the overall health of our ecosystems. A decline in bee populations can indicate environmental imbalances and potential risks to biodiversity. By protecting bees, we are safeguarding the entire web of life that depends on their pollination services.
On this World Bee Day, let us recognize the tireless efforts of these incredible creatures. They are unsung heroes that contribute to our food security, biodiversity, and environmental sustainability. Through collective action and awareness, we can ensure a thriving future for bees and ourselves.
So, take a moment to appreciate the buzzing symphony in your garden, the sight of bees diligently collecting nectar, and the sweet taste of honey on your tongue. Let us celebrate World Bee Day by acknowledging the vital roles of bees and committing to protect and preserve them for generations to come.