World Bee Day

By: Narendra Pukhrambam, Retd. BDO
By observing World Bee Day each year, we can raise awareness on the essential role bees and other pollinators play in keeping people and planet healthy, and on the many challenges they face today. We have been celebrating this day since 2018, thanks to the efforts of the Government of Slovenia with the support of Apimondia, that the United Nation General Assembly to declare 20 May as World Bee Day.
The date for this observation was chosen as it was the day Anton Jansa a pioneer of modern apiculture (beekeeping) was born. This date marks the birth, more than 270 years ago, of Anton Jansa, a pioneer of modern bee-keeping an academy trained Fine Arts painter and the first teacher of bee keeping Academy in Augarten in Vienna, established by Empress Maria Theresa.
Born in a modest farming family in 1734, he was only 19 when his father died. As the eldest, he had to help his mother care for his four brothers and four sisters. Poverty circumstances and the beekeeping tradition of the area encouraged the Jansa family to pursue beekeeping, and they owned over 100 beehives. This was the first and best school of beekeeping for young Anton, who liked to sit with the group of neighbours as they gathered in the evenings to discuss farming and bee keeping practices and experiences. In 1769 the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa wanted to impress the knowledge about beekeeping and was looking for a teacher at the newly founded bee keeping school.
Anton become the first Imperially appointed teacher of apiculture in Augarten, Vienna. His work included journeys during which he spread and promoted beekeeping in Austria, gave practical lessons about new scientific findings and his own observations and wrote professional books. In addition to teaching he wrote text books where he presented his own method of beekeeping, which was significantly different from other writers at that time.
He published two books namely “A Treaties on the Swarming of Bees” in 1771, followed by “A Complete Guide to Bee-Keeping” his books are still regarded and consultant as the classical works on Beekeeping by beekeepers world wide. He has made the Carniolon bee farmers. Since the 18th Century the so called Carniolon Grey bee become as the most Industrious and gentle of all the species of bee. Over 170,000 Queen bees of the Apis Mellifera Carnia have been exported world wide.
The most important contributions towards development of beekeeping provided by Anton Jansa, changing the size and shape of hives to form where they can be stacked together like blocks in order to enable moving more hives to various pastures. His beekeeping knowledge were based on the old knowledge from his fathers homeland. He introduced the authentic Slovenian bee APIS-MELIFFERA CARNICA to the rest of the world. He invented handy bee keeping tools and was the first to discover the role and importance of drone in the hive. It can be said that Slovenes share with Anton Jonsa his love of the honeybee. It used to be livelihood in his time, later it has become also a favoured pastime in Slovenes, where one in 250 residents keeps bees and there are over 200 beekeeping societies.
In one of his Books he noted bees are a type of fly, hard-working, created by God to provide man with all needed honey and wax. Amongst all God’s beings there are none so hard working and useful to man with so little attention needed for its keep as the bee. Anton Jansa died on the 13th September 1773 in Vienna.
Bees are known to be one of the hardest working creatures on the planet and immensely benefit the people and the naturel ecosystem around them. Flowers and bees cannot exist without each other and that their existence are interconnected. It has been calculated that bees constitute eighty percent of all the visitors the flowers at cultivated plants only twenty percent falling to other insects. It is being increasingly realised that bees could be less expensive input promoting sustainable and eco-friendly agriculture and enhancing crop productivity. With over 20,000 species of bees and various other wild pollinators, they face challenges from human actiities such as habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.
Judicious exploitation of flora and fauna of the nectafarmious plants and agricultural practices for food, fodder, fibre has been the hallmark of man’s effort for a long time. Wasteful practices like Jhum cultivation in the hill, population pressure, increased urbanisation and indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, floods and droughts increased damaged over ecosystem, and thus loss of genetic resource. The ecosystem is an evolutionary mechanism that provide a life support through natural cycle and renewal.
The bee colony reveals to man the real force of vital links unifying a biological species. Starting from the bee colony, the human mind turns to new unknown regions of living nature, to their unexplored and inexhaustible resource. A complete control over the evolution of vegetable life on the Earth is a thing of the future, but that future is not so hopelessly far away. Then the four winged pollinators of flowers, the living catalysers in the process of plant evolution will become instrument of natural scientific transformation, by means of which the Earth will once again be converted into a garden in bloom, but this time by man and not by insects.
To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designed 20 May as World Bee Day. The goal is to strengthen measures aimed at protecting bees and other pollinators, which would significantly contribute to solving problems related to the global food supply and eliminate hunger in developing countries. We all depend on pollinators and it is, therefore crucial to monitor their decline and halt he loss of biodiversity.

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