Slideshow | Honey Bee Day celebrated to highlight the importance of pollinators: Practical support for sustainable development in villages near Kanyakumari – Tamil Nadu

World Honey Bee Day observed by agriculturists in Western Ghats

Nagercoil
World Honey Bee Day was observed by Tribal Foundation at Irenipuram, an agricultural village in Kanyakumari district in the Western Ghats on August 17, 2019. Honey bee nests were distributed to the bee keepers.
 
Agriculturists who domesticate honey bee nests participated in the meeting. The Foundation maintains 300 honey bee nests in and around the village and in the hilly areas maintained by indigenous Kaani tribal people.

The Horticulture Department of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Department helps in subsidised distribution of honey bee nests to indigenous people and agriculturists.
 
Speaking at the meeting, S S Davidson, environmental educator, who manages the honey bee nests said that the domestication of nests were introduced as a forest conservation activity that while people hunt wild honey, 1000s of bees are killed in the process that amounts to destruction of forest fauna.

So to conserve the wild bees, to provide the delicious food of the tribal people and to boost their economy, the honey bee domestication project was implemented. He said that it was an activity to counter the existing Human Versus Animal Conflict also, that no animal raids the honey except sloth bear, but the bee keepers keep the nests in areas where the bear never visits.

He pointed out that due to the use of insecticides in monoculture rubber plantations by spraying sulphur and copper sulphate , honey bees contract fungal and virus infections making the bee combs  turn black in color and the bees migrate to other areas in the forests.
 
The world Honey Bee Day was observed on August 17 this year to educate the public about beekeeping, while helping the overall public understand the importance and contributions that honey bees provide. Public outreach and education are crucial in expanding and even maintaining the ability to keep bees.
 
Honey bees are as important today as they ever were. A decline in native pollinators, due to a host of reasons, impacts local agriculture and many backyard gardens. Beekeepers are not just vital for large scale food production. Backyard beekeepers are vital for neighbourhood pollination. And local ecosystem of food production for wild animals and birds is dependent on pollination. Beekeepers fill the void with their honey bees. 
 
Estimates say that from 50 to 80 percent of world’s food supply is directly or indirectly affected by honey bees by pollination. Whether it is food production or grains for livestock the food chain is linked to honey bees. The world’s production of food is dependent on pollination provided by honey bees. 

Bees and bee products have been used in many areas of health. If sore throat is treated with honey, it has good relief, according to indigenous physicians. Honey bees provide honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, enjoyment as a hobby and income by marketing honey. For burn victims honey is administered as an antibiotic.

Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities. Pollinators allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce. Not only do pollinators contribute directly to food security, but they are key to conserving biodiversity – a cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals. They also serve as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signaling the health of local ecosystems.

Invasive insects, pesticides, land-use change and mono-cropping practices may reduce available nutrients and pose threats to bee colonies.

Honey Bee Day is celebrated as to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development.

Bees are the popular among the di­fferent pollinator species in the world. Ensuring biodiversity among these species is crucial to build resilience in agro-ecosystems and adapt to climate change. Nearly 90 per cent of all wild flowering plants depend at least to some extent on animal pollination. Pollinators affect 35 percent of global agricultural land. Caring for bees and other pollinators is part of the fight against world hunger. Why we should you care about pollinators? 

Bees  and other pollinators affect all  humans. The food that humans  eat, such as fruits and vegetables, directly relies on pollinators. A world without pollinators would equal a world without food diversity – no fruits, vegetables, coffee, chocolate, and so much more.

Bees not only help ensure the abundance of fruits, nuts, and seeds, but also their variety and quality, which is crucial for human nutrition. Beyond food, pollinators also contribute directly to medicines, bio-fuels, fibers like cotton and linen, and construction materials. 

The vast majority of flowering plant species only produce seeds if animal pollinators move pollen from the anthers to the stigmas of their flowers. Without this service, many interconnected species and processes functioning within the ecosystem would collapse.

Pollination is therefore a keystone process, in both human managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems. It is critical for food production and human livelihoods and directly links wild ecosystems with agricultural production systems.

A diverse assemblage of pollinators, with different traits and responses to ambient conditions, is also one of the best ways to minimize risks due to climate change.  Their diversity ensures that there are effective pollinators not just for current conditions, but for future conditions as well. As a result of biodiversity, resilience can therefore be built in agro-ecosystems.

However, pollinators face main challenges today, from intensive agriculture, pesticides, to climate change. Recognizing the dimensions of the pollination crisis and its links to biodiversity and human livelihoods, the Convention on Biological Diversity has made the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators a priority. In 2000, the International Pollinator Initiative (IPI) was established (COP decision V/5, section II) at the Fifth Conference of Parties (COP V) as a cross-cutting initiative to promote coordinated action worldwide to:
– Monitor pollinator decline, its causes and its impact on pollination services;
– Address the lack of taxonomic information on pollinators;
– Assess the economic value of pollination and the economic impact of the decline of pollination services; and
– Promote the conservation and the restoration and sustainable use of pollinator diversity in agriculture and related ecosystems.
– In agro-ecosystems, pollinators are essential for orchard, horticultural and forage production, as well as the production of seed for many root and fiber crops. Pollinators such as bees, birds, and bats affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, plus many plant-derived medicines. 

The observance of World Bee Day worldwide has many objectives as
– To draw the attention of the world’s public and political decision-makers to the importance of protecting bees;
– To remind us that we depend on bees and other pollinators;
– To protect bees and other pollinators, which would significantly contribute to solving problems related to the global food supply and eliminate hunger in developing countries; 
– To halt the further loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The absence of an appropriate habitat for bees could lead to a continuous decline in pollination. 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.

Declining pollination also poses an immediate threat to nutrition. 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.

The following successful approaches for decision-makers should include:
– Pollinator-friendly pesticide policies;
– Conservation and enhancement of pollinator habitats;
– Valuation, incentives, and payments for ecosystem services;
– Participation, knowledge-sharing, and empowerment of rural and indigenous peoples and local communities;
– Collaborative research and outreach;
– Public awareness raising and knowledge sharing.

On a policy level, a more diverse agriculture and less dependency on toxic chemicals to facilitate an increase in pollination, leading to improved food quality and a surge in food quantity are encouraged.

Source: courtesy Davidson Sargunam by email (26 August 2019)

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Learn more about the United Nations efforts in support of Sustainable development >>

Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

More posts contributed by Davidson Sargunam >>

For inquiries on environmental exposure programs, please contact
Davidson Sargunam
Environmental Educationist
M: 09994138550
email: ssdavidson9@gmail.com

Tribal Foundation
23, Cave Street, Duthie School Road
Nagercoil – 629 001
Tamil Nadu
Reg. No: 1116/2009

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