KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The United Nations is observing World Bee Day on May 20. There remains a growing concern for aiding and saving the buzzing pollinators as they play a critical role in human food supply and the environment. This year’s theme is “Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems.”

According to the UN and its Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 80% of human food is supplied by plants. The loss of pollinators like bees, bats, birds and butterflies and more could lead to “an exponential loss of biodiversity, which would endanger our ecosystems and our diet.”

The UN says most of the 25,000 to 30,000 species of bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) are effective pollinators and help supply some 2 billion farmers worldwide with crop pollination. This helps to ensure food security for the world’s population. Honey hunting of wild bee colonies also remains an essential practice for forest-dependent cultures in developing countries.

“Pollinators allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce. Indeed, the food that we eat, such as fruits and vegetables, directly relies on pollinators,” the UN states on its World Bee Day page. “A world without pollinators would equal a world without food diversity – no blueberries, coffee, chocolate, cucumbers and so much more.”

Why care about bees and other pollinators?

The UN says nearly 90% of all wild flowering plants depend on some form of animal or insect pollination; plus pollinators also affect 35% of global agricultural land. So, caring about bees and other pollinators is part of the fight against world hunger.

What can I do to help bees?

Anyone can help the bees to combat bee decline and colony collapse. You can help by doing the following:

  • planting a diverse set of native plants, which flower at different times of the year
  • buying raw honey from local farmers
  • buying products from sustainable agricultural practices
  • avoiding pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in our gardens
  • protecting wild bee colonies when possible
  • sponsoring a hive
  • making a bee water fountain by leaving a water bowl outside
  • helping sustain forest ecosystems
  • raising awareness around us by sharing this information within our communities and networks
  • reducing, or changing the usage of pesticides

World Bee Day 2022 virtual event

The UN is holding discussions with virtual events on how to “bee engaged” and the importance of pollinators in our ecosystems on World Bee Day.

The virtual event will feature bee and pollinator experts and practitioners from across the world and will be available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian languages.

You can register and view the virtual event here.