The Slovenia Times

UN declares 20 May World Bee Day on Slovenia's initiative


The initiative was launched in 2014 by the Slovenian Beekeeping Association as a way of highlighting the role of honeybees in agriculture.

The vote in New York declaring 20 May World Bee Day caps three and a half years of efforts by Slovenia to celebrate an animal species that is increasingly becoming a national symbol as well.

The idea behind the initiative is to raise awareness about the importance of bees and other pollinators and help drive measures to ensure bees' survival for the benefit of the entire humankind.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), bees and other pollinators are an invaluable factor in providing food security, as a third of all food produced in the world depends on them.

Slovenia had proposed that the day is observed in May, when honey bees in the Northern Hemisphere are the most active and start to reproduce, while the need for pollination is also the highest in this period.

Slovenia had lobbied hard for the initiative and 115 countries now co-sponsor the resolution to mark World Bee Day on 20 May, also to celebrate the birth of Slovenian beekeeping pioneer Anton Janša (1734-1773).

In 1770, Janša became the first royally appointed teacher of apiculture for all Austrian lands, as Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa appointed him the head of the first beekeeping school in Vienna. Drawing from a hundred-year tradition of beekeeping, he laid the foundations of modern beekeeping.

The resolution calls on UN member states to "observe World Bee Day through education and activities aimed at raising awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators, the threats that they face and their contribution to sustainable development."

Slovenian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Dejan Židan is at the UN General Assembly session for the occasion and will host a reception for diplomats and the media.

"I understand the declaration of World Bee Day primarily as an obligation - we want to do more for the protection of bees and other pollinators, be more active in providing in ensuring biodiversity and be more successful in fighting global hunger", Židan said.

The minister thanked all who have contributed to the initiative, including the state administration, NGOs and other institutions and individuals both home and abroad. "Slovenia can be proud of its people, of its land and of its bees".

The Slovenian Beekeepers' Association celebrated the news by toasting with honey-flavoured sparkling wine at its headquarters in Lukovica, Marko Alauf of the association told the STA.

The association is already focusing on the preparations for the main ceremony marking the first World Bee Day, which will take place in Breznica (NW), the birthplace of Anton Janša.

The ceremony will include a meeting of Slovenian beekeepers, an international conference on bees, short trips and a beekeeping fair. Before the ceremony, a conference of EU agriculture ministers will be held at Brdo pri Kranju.

Alauf added that the Slovenian delegation in New York, headed by Židan and Beekeepers' Association president Boštjan Noč, will be treated with a special reception when they returned home. Beekeepers will also be received by President Borut Pahor next week.


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