This week, on 20th May, we celebrate United Nations (UN) World Bee Day and, two days later, the International Day of Biological Diversity. For us, it’s a time to re-iterate the importance of bees and other insect pollinators and the need to protect them. Pollinators deliver crucial services to mankind. “Insect pollinators help ensure the production of many of the fruit, vegetable and nut crops we enjoy as part of our daily diet,” says Coralie van Breukelen-Groeneveld, Head of the Bayer Bee Care Center, “and that is one of the reasons why Bayer supports them with a range of projects in many parts of the world.” Here are two examples:
Ensuring healthy hives in Latin America
Until recently, little was known about the factors affecting honey bee health in Latin America and how these factors impact crop pollination and yields. The “Healthy Hives 2020 Latin America” program is designed to change this. In a joint project, the Bayer Bee Care Center and the Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation work alongside local researchers at universities and beekeeper associations to monitor and gather information about beekeepers and their hive management practices. The program also looks into honey bee colony strength, the incidence of pests and pathogens in the hives, and the use of pesticides. Based on the monitoring results, specific, locally-tailored training courses and collaborative activities are carried out to improve the honey bee health situation. Launched in Chile in 2015, the program was extended to Colombia and Argentina in 2017/18 and will begin in Costa Rica this year.
Of Mangoes and stingless bees
On the other side of the globe, in Thailand, the Bayer Bee Care Center supports a research project to determine whether some of the native stingless bee species can be managed, like honey bees are, to provide small-scale farmers with better pollination of their mango crops. The goal is to boost productivity of this major crop in Thailand – and, thus, growers’ income – by enhancing pollination and providing options for small-scale honey-collection for sale.
“Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health” – this year’s theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22nd May certainly fits well with the topic of bees and pollinating insects. Insects are by far the most abundant and diverse animal pollinators on the planet and provide a wide range of services to our (agricultural) ecosystem. As such, Bayer has a vested interest in their wellbeing and our researchers are passionate about all insects, emphasizes Coralie van Breukelen-Groeneveld: “We are working to promote them where they are beneficial, control them where they cause harm, and protect them where they don’t.”
Dedicating these special days to both bees and biodiversity in the same week raises awareness for two important topics: Our focus is on improving biodiversity around the world through sustainable agriculture, and this includes the protection of bees and other pollinators.