25 May 2019 - 12:46
All the buzz about bees

TEHRAN, May 25 (MNA) – Bees are very important for food security, preventing from hunger, and preserving the diverse ecosystem, and are indispensable to economic, social and, environmental issues.

Bees are nearly responsible for one third of the food we eat, hence they are very much vital to mankind. However, despite their importance bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat and in decline. 

Today one out of 10 pollinators are in decline due to human activities including irregular use of pesticides, climate change and temperature rise, pollutions, etc. 

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.

Being so vital to the planet and mankind they have their own day. May 20 is designed to spread awareness of the significance of bees.

May 20 coincides with the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native Slovenia and praised the bees for their ability to work so hard, while needing so little attention.

In Iran World Bee Day 2019 was marked in Embassy of Slovenia under the theme of #SaveTheBee, in presence of diplomats, ambassadors, and United Nations representatives in Iran as well. 

“Raising awareness about the bees is not just about the honey it’s about continuously repeating that it’s an issue of food security,” Kristina Radej, Slovenian ambassador to Iran, told the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview on World Bee day. 

“That this is an issue which has to be addressed on a global scale. Especially because of climate change, pollution and the fact we depend on the jobs of these creatures and there will be a food security issue if we will not be more gracious with them and be grateful for the job that they are doing,” the ambassador, who is also a beekeeper herself, highlighted.  

Reversing bees’ population decline

Increasing awareness, from childhood, would help in reversing the population decline of the precious pollinators, she said. 

“These creatures are working very hard that we are having food on our tables, so that every single one of us have to protect the environment and be very sensitive regarding the pollution to think about how we are using pesticides for extensive agriculture.

“These things all matter and this is something I’m proud on the politics we have in this area in the European Union. We have very high standards we are cancelling one after another pesticides use and also regarding the labeling the origin of the mixed honeys and I think we are on the right track. 

“May 20 is now reserved for thinking about the importance of bees. So I’m very honored that what I can do on behalf of Slovenia as a bee keeper and for our children of course,” she added. 

“In order to make economic developments sometimes we forget what we are doing on the way to achieve bigger economic success,” she highlighted. 

“Sometimes we should think about what we are doing on that road. What we are destroying because of what we are gaining.
 
“I believe Slovenia as a two-million-nation European country is on a good track and I’m very optimistic about our action plan till 2020.

How is setting a date for bees going to help?

“This is empowering beekeepers. On World Bee Day I had a meeting with beekeepers at the Ministry Of Agriculture as every May 20 now they have an annual meeting. 

“They are discussing about their problems and if you have a day on calendar it means that you are important. At least on May 20 the politicians are listening, and the governmental institutions are listening and this is something that you have to grab and use for your benefits. I thought about that when I was sitting together with Iranian beekeepers they discussed about bee diseases and about their problems and challenges after the horrible floods in the country. So many bee hives are destroyed so many bee families are destroyed so this is a challenge Iranian beekeepers are facing.”

The path to public Awareness 

She went on to say that in order to increase public awareness about bees “we introduce Slovenian tradition on honey breakfast. It’s a tradition in Slovenia in the past and we are going to introduce it in our kindergartens and primary schools. The breakfast is a piece of a bread, apple, honey and butter and lots of milk. And this is what we do around May 20, and also in September and October. 

“So raining public awareness depends on how active we are. Even our prime minister is going to participate in the tradition in one primary school and other ministers are going to join such events. 

“I did it last year and I also intend to do this year having honey breakfast in the park. I also did it in one of the schools here in Tehran with the association of beekeepers and I discovered that Iranian children already know very exactly what the breakfast is and they are already eating breakfast so in this country the awareness of the children I think is very high. 

“Also you have a lot of beekeepers. I found theses villages which depend on beekeeping as a job and source of income and philosophy of life. 

“In Slovenia it’s so important because in today life it is easy to forget about having breakfast, honey breakfast is healthy. It’s important and you are thinking about honey bees with your children every single morning.

“And we published a book for children and we translated it into English, Persian, and Slovenian. It includes fairy tale stories about the bees and the title is “the most important job in the world” which is about the job of the bees. The children adores this and I’m reading that to children when I’m going to the kindergartens. And this is very simple, people to people discussion.”

Status of bees in Slovenia 

Published on World Bee Day, the ‘Bees Under Siege’ report by WWF and Buglife has found that many species of bee are on the brink of extinction in parts of the UK – and some types have been lost entirely, Independent reported. Climate change, habitat loss, pollution and disease are threatening the pollinators, the analysis of 228 species concluded.

Inquired about the status of bees in Slovenia as a European country the ambassador explained that “we are very proud we have our own Carniolan honey bee, which is very prominent bee queen. So we are always concerned about the illness of the bees and diseases which are coming and going, climate change, weather conditions, improper dealing with honey or … which are very unfortunate and sometimes these diseases are unstoppable.” 

“When you are working with the bees it is very sad when something happens to them like what happened in the UK,” she regretted. 

“But together the scientists are working very hard trying to find ways to cure the illnesses affecting the bees.”

Cooperation between Iran and Slovenia 

“For the second year now together with Iran we are raising awareness about the importance of the bees. I found my partners among the beekeepers in Karaj institute of agriculture and Ministry of Agriculture. We are planning to have workshops here in Tehran. Experts from Slovenia are coming as well as Iranian beekeepers will join together to attend the workshops. 

“Iranian beekeepers are very interested in learning about bee diseases. Slovenia has a very special technique how to do beekeeping. In Slovenia we opened international beekeeping academy which is the only one in the world. So I already encouraged one group to attend the courses in Slovenia. There are different kinds of courses depending on how professional you are in beekeeping. So this is one step at a time.

“We also intend to import beekeeping products to Iran and Iran can also export honey to Slovenia. The two countries can also cooperate on importing and exporting equipment for beekeeping, exchange of science and setting up educational programs, apitherapy, and tourism for example setting up special programs for tourists who are interested in beekeeping. 

The ambassador also highlighted that vocational training and beekeeping workshops for Afghan refugee girls living in Iran, aged 16, are also being held at the embassy. 

“Iran has been doing a great job for Afghan refugees for a long time so the least I can do is to empower women who need our assistance teaching them beekeeping so that they can produce their own honey and sell it, so that they will not be forced to marry due to financial problems,” she concluded.

By Maryam Qarehgozlou  

MNA/TT

News Code 145672

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