Nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species, more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land depend on pollinators.
This year, World Bee Day - under the theme "Bee Engaged" - is focusing on bee production and good practices adopted by beekeepers to support their livelihoods and deliver good quality products. Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities.
Pollination is a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems. Pollinators affect 35 percent of the world's crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, plus many plant-derived medicines. Three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators. Not only do pollinators contribute directly to food security, but they are key to conserving biodiversity.
Ukraine has almost unlimited potential for the development of the beekeeping industry. “There is a wide range of honey crops: from fragrant wild meadow flowers, acacia, linden, to crops such as sunflower, canola and buckwheat. Sunflower fields in Ukraine alone cover more than 6 million hectares annually, and Ukrainian “golden” sunflower honey is known all over the world.” noted Anna Burka, FAO agricultural market expert. “Centuries-old traditions of beekeeping in Ukraine have been preserved, and hundreds of thousands of beekeepers in the country producing 70-80 thousand tons of honey annually. "Organic" beekeeping and production of organic honey are becoming popular, and a protected geographical indication "Transcarpathian honey" will be obtained in the nearest future.”
Due to this, Ukraine is among the top-5 world leaders in honey production and export and has a huge potential for further growth. Ukrainian honey is exported to more than 50 countries, and demand remains stable. The main export markets of Ukrainian honey are the countries of the European Union and the United States, but the products are gradually spreading to the Middle East and Asia. In 2019, honey exports amounted to more than USD 100 million, which is the second figure after a record in 2017, when products were exported by more than USD 133 million.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the beekeeping sector affecting the production, the market and as a consequence, the livelihoods of beekeepers.
Moreover, close to 35 percent of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and about 17 percent of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats, face extinction globally. Present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts. Intensive farming practices, land-use change, mono-cropping, pesticides and higher temperatures associated with climate change all pose problems for bee populations and, by extension, the quality of food we grow. If this trend continues, nutritious crops, such as fruits, nuts and many vegetable crops will be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn and potatoes, eventually resulting in an imbalanced diet.
In recognition of the critical role of pollinators in food production and food security, FAO is promoting pollinator-friendly practices in agricultural management. Here are 5 practical tips for honey producers and beekeepers from FAO experts:
Give bees food they like by growing native plants in your garden. Planting a diverse set of native plants which flower at different times of the year can make a huge difference for pollinators.
Reward these busy bodies by making a bee water fountain. These little ones need water after buzzing around all day. Leaving a clean, shallow water bowl, with rocks or sticks in it so that bees don’t drown, is a good way to give the bees a resting spot and some necessary refreshment.
Avoid pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in your gardens. They can kill pollinators and poison hives with contaminated nectar or pollen brought by bees from contaminated plants. Try to find natural solutions to pests for the plants in your garden.
Create a good habitat for bees in order to ensure pollination. Leave some areas of the farm as a natural habitat. Reduce your use of pesticides and leave bee-nesting sites untouched.
Learn more about bees and conquer your fear. By better understanding how to respect them, you can avoid bad encounters and learn to live peacefully with these necessary creatures.
Consumers can also “bee engaged” through buying raw honey, beeswax or other bee products from local farmers. We all depend on pollinators and it is, therefore, crucial to monitor their decline and halt the loss of biodiversity.
UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations