Above: Members of the Dilliro family
at the Dilliro Vegetables stall

Bees and other pollinating insects have been under increasing threat worldwide due to pesticides and diseases.

According to a study by Caspar Hallmann, a scientist with the Dutch Radboud University, the insect population in many German areas has decreased by over 75 percent over the past 27 years. Also, bee mortality has increased strongly. The reasons: intensive agriculture, pesticides, the parasite Varroamilbe and the ever-decreasing habitat for bees.

Bees are essential pollinators, especially in fruit and vegetable cultivation. Without bees, nearly 75% of the world’s crops and many other parts of our biological world will not survive… and that means the problem threatens our own existence.

Anton Janša
Slovenian Anton Janša, known as a pioneer of modern apiculture.

With a long and inventive history in beekeeping, it was Slovenia that lobbied the United Nations (UN) to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day. A day dedicated to spreading awareness of the significance of bees and other pollinators.

The date is significant, as the birthday of Slovenian beekeeper Anton Janša, a pioneer of modern beekeeping.

Finally, in December 2017, after three years of efforts at the international level, the United Nations Member States unanimously approved Slovenia’s proposal.

Last year the Rotary Club of Hall supported the first Slovenian initiative and in the ensuing year, the Ambassador and staff from the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia have also visited the club and joined Rotary Club of Hall members on a day of stallholder compliance visits.

World Bee Day in the ACT

lindfield-Park
Lindfield Park Produce embracing the theme at the Capital Region Farmers’ Market.

There were seven World Bee Day activities in the ACT this year, two of which Rotary Club of Hall participated in. The most significant of these was ‘Bee at the Markets’ on Saturday 18 May. Forgive the pun, but it was a hive of activity with a very large turnout of shoppers responding to a myriad of promotional activities. 

In its support of World Bee Day 2019, the market focused on honey and the importance of bees to food production. Enthusiastic shoppers ‘swarmed’ down to the markets for honey tastings, expert advice and the special honey-themed produce.

Fresh honeycomb and face painting were extremely popular with the children. As a result, many sticky-faced small ‘bees’ could be seen buzzing around the market helping their parents shop.

world bee day 2019
Hall Rotarians, Vicki and Jonathan representing the Farmers Market at the World Bee Day at Parliament House

Then, the following day, Hall Rotarians took part in World Bee Day at Parliament House in Canberra. The colourful CRFM display was a noticeable attraction at the event and provided a great opportunity for the team to chat with visitors about the club’s Saturday Farmers Market.

team from Slovenian Embassy
Staff from the Embassy of Republic of Slovenian at Parliament House, Canberra

Global Rotary Support

the Rotary Club of Hall is not the only club supporting this global effort. Rotary and Rotaract clubs around the world are helping support this initiative, some have taken the next step of proactively doing more than creating awareness.

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Last year in Germany, 30 Rotaract clubs built and installed 500 ‘bee hotels’ in a project they named ‘Bee Active’. Also in Germany, a Rotarian offered a field that he owned to the Rotaractors to turn into a biodiverse meadow to provide bees with sources of pollen.

rotary bee spotters
An international group of Rotarians examine a bee project in Germany.

On a recent trip to Germany, I joined a group of Rotarians from around the world on a tour of another Rotary project titled ‘Bienenweide Oetjendorf’ (Bees Pasture Project), an initiative of the Rotary Club Ahrensburg near Hamburg. 

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bee hotel
A bee hotel on the site provides a bank of suitable bee nesting materials.

The site we visited is a 3.3-hectare‘ bee meadow’ sewn with over 40 native flower species. The club has an agreement to pay an expense allowance to the farmer for six years to grow and maintain this field of flowers to help support the 561 species of wild bees native to Germany. 

The club’s aim is to create a patchwork of similar fields across the country to help ensure agricultural yields.

How can you help?

Everyone can help either by spreading the word about the global importance of this situation and by creating gardens with bee-friendly plants and supporting environmens.