Indigenous peoples

Indigenous Peoples and Bees: Bee Engaged, support their livelihoods.

It is important to “Bee Engaged” and support indigenous beekeepers and honey hunters

20/05/2020 - 

This year’s World Bee Day theme is “Bee Engaged” and it focuses on bee production and good practices adopted by beekeepers to support their livelihoods and deliver good quality products. Bees and bee-derived products have contributed to indigenous peoples livelihoods and food and nutritional status for centuries. Indigenous peoples have managed to preserve their traditional knowledge which is crucial for the understanding of how to manage an array of bee species.  


For Indigenous peoples such as the Ogiek of Kenya ,the Kulung honey-hunters of Nepal and the southern Brazilian Amazon Kawaiweté, bees have been and intrinsic part of their identity, economy and culture. Bees and their by-products are an essential source of energy as well as an important element in the production of traditional medicines for indigenous peoples. Beeswax is utilized in several different ways, even for the production on hunting spears. 


From the stingless bees (Melipona spp.) of the Maya people of Mexico and Guatemala which are utilized for medicinal purposesto the giant Himalayan honeybees (Apis dorsata laboriosa) of the Gurung people of Nepal and their innovative rope ladder technology, to the East African lowland honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata) of the Hadza people of Tanzania and their use of honeyguides, bees have been historically linked to indigenous peoples worldwide. . 


The recent COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the beekeeping sector affecting the production, the marketing and therefore, the livelihoods of beekeepers. More so indigenous beekeepers are suffering greatly the lack of respect of indigenous peoples’ individual and collective rights that places them in increasingly vulnerable situations. It is important to “Bee Engaged” and support indigenous beekeepers and honey hunters as they are the gatekeepers to important genetic reservoirs and in some instances, are the sole keepers of knowledge about some bee species. We must protect the traditional knowledge that indigenous peoples have been harnessing to sustainably generate bee-products while at the same time protecting different bee species. Such knowledge plays a crucial role in addressing many challenges, including those linked to climate change. Indigenous peoples are important allies in protecting biodiversity and ecosystems. 




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