World Bee Day 2024: Why is it important and how can you get involved?

 (Peter Byrne / PA)
(Peter Byrne / PA)

Bees are essential to the existence of the world’s eco-system and, as humanity relies on the buzzing insects for survival, it is only natural that an entire day has now been dedicated to them.

To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the United Nations (UN) has designated May 20 as World Bee Day.

The organisation stated: “World Bee Day presents an opportunity to call for global co-operation and solidarity to ensure that we prioritise efforts to protect bees and other pollinators, thereby mitigating threats posed to food security and agricultural livelihoods, and defending against biodiversity loss and environmental degradation.”

“World Bee Day is also an occasion to raise awareness of how everyone can make a difference to support, restore and enhance the role of pollinators.”

Here is the key info on World Bee Day.

What is World Bee Day?

The day is a celebration of what bees bring to the world, as well as a chance to raise awareness of the increasing threat against them from human activity.

The UN says that pollinators – creatures such as bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds – are under threat because of farming around the world intensifying and from the use of pesticides.

Friends of the Earth – a charity dedicated to raising awareness of the planet’s plight – have launched The Bee Cause, and says that a total of 35 different species of bees are under immediate threat of extinction.

They have started a petition urging the UK Government to reduce pesticides and make the countryside safer for all wildlife.

The World Bee Day cause is a chance to reflect on the serious wildlife issue and give people ideas on how they can save our bee population.

What is the theme of World Bee Day 2024?

The theme this year is "Bee engaged with Youth", highlighting the importance of “involving young people in beekeeping and pollinator conservation efforts, recognising them as the future stewards of our environment.

“This year's campaign aims to raise awareness among youth and other stakeholders about the essential role of bees and other pollinators in agriculture, ecological balance, and biodiversity preservation,” the UN adds.

“By engaging young people in beekeeping activities, educational initiatives, and advocacy efforts, we can inspire a new generation of environmental leaders and empower them to make a positive impact on the world.”

Why are bees under threat?

If the number of bees continues to decline in the way they are at present, it would have a significant impact on our day-to-day living.

Crop production would suffer, and in turn reduce the food we eat, especially fruit and vegetables such as apples and tomatoes.

The intensive use of pesticides used to help crops grow by farmers and gardeners affects bee nesting sites, reduces their access to food and exposes them to harmful chemicals, which in turn weakens their immune system.

Pollination is a fundamental process for the survival of the world’s ecosystems.

The UN says: “Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75 per cent of the world’s food crops and 35 per cent of global agricultural land. Not only do pollinators contribute directly to food security, but they are key to conserving biodiversity.”

World Bee Day activities – how can I get involved?

Schools are encouraged to open up the topic of conversation with students, and businesses can add a ‘World Bee Day’ button to their work website which links to the work the UN is doing.

Other ideas include going for walks in the park and honey tasting.

They are also asking people to take to social media to raise awareness and show what they are doing to help, asking them to add the hashtags #WorldBeeDay #Savethebees.

How can I protect bees?

Adding hanging baskets to your home and letting the lawn grow are two key ways you can help save the bees, according to a British beekeeper.

Brits can also allow flowers to grow on their lawns, and steer clear of artificial grass to help the insects.

Bee-friendly flowers to plant include primrose and aubretia in spring, honeysuckle, lavender and yarrow in summer, and ivy, hyssop and ice plants in the autumn.

If you see a bee struggling you can also put down some sugar water, to help them thrive and fly again.