With bees on the brink, World Bee Day seeks to raise awareness | News | DW | 20.05.2018
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With bees on the brink, World Bee Day seeks to raise awareness

Bee populations have witnessed a steady decline over the past decade, according to the UN. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for people to "do something good for bees" as they face extinction.

Organizations across the globe on Sunday marked the first-ever World Bee Day launched by the UN to raise awareness about the fate of pollinators.

Over the past decade, bees and other pollinators have witnessed a steady decline, with experts blaming several factors, including insecticides, climate change and disease.

Why a day for bees?

  • The UN Food and Agricultural Organization believe bees and other pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds, "are increasingly under threat from human activities."
  • International authorities are hoping to draw attention to the steady decline of bee populations. For examples, around 24 percent of Europe's bumble bees are threatened with extinction according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
  • Bees contribute to the pollination of around 90 percent of the world's major crops. Without them, the world risks food insecurity, according to the UN.
A Chinese beekeeper handles bees

Bees are an important part of ending world hunger, according to the UN

What's happening to the bees?

Authorities believe Colony Collapse Disorder is behind the sudden decline of bee populations.

The phenomenon occurs "when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen," according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Scientists believe Colony Collapse Disorder is the result of several factors, including pesticides, loss of habitat due to urbanization, climate change, invasive alien species and pathogens.

What is Germany doing about it?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday called on people to "think about biodiversity and do something good for bees" during her annual budget speech to parliament. She said that it is "something that perhaps seems a bit small to some people, but is actually really big."

In Germany, there are several initiatives at the local, regional and federal level aimed at preserving pollinator populations.

For example, in Berlin, hives have been established in more than 15 prominent buildings across the capital, including the state legislature and the finance ministry. The initiative, started by German biologist Corinna Hölzer, has expanded to 25 other cities.

ls/jm (dpa, AFP, AP)

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