To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the United Nations created World Bee Day, commemorated yesterday.
Without bees, we would not have crops such as apples, melons and broccoli. Some fruit, such as blueberries and cherries, are almost entirely dependent on pollination by honey bees. In addition, should bees no longer pollinate crops such as alfalfa and other grains used to feed cattle, meat and dairy production would significantly decrease.
Bee populations are under stress across the globe, with declines in colonies reported in Europe, Northern America, Asia and Africa, according to the UN Environment Programme. The northern hemisphere has experienced an estimated 45% decrease in bee populations due to issues of monocrops, climate change and pesticide use.
While South African bee populations have not decreased this drastically, local bees still face the challenge of habitat degradation.