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Thank you everyone who has taken part in this lively and wide-ranging discussion about bees and bee products.The importance of bees cannot be understated. In additional to providing honey, their value lies in pollination and ecosystem services, economic value as a source of income and, cultural and religious significance.We have heard from a number of countries about the range of uses of bee products, including the use of honey in brewing in Kenya, as a medicine or sweetener for traditional medicines, to feeding bee brood to sick bees as medicine. The cost and accessibility of honey was raised in a couple of responses – and, although honey production seems to be available year-round, the general decline and costs of beekeeping has raised the price of honey in some countries.From a national perspective, there are still a number of countries that do not actively support sustainable beekeeping, or create the right condition for agriculture and apiculture to benefit from each other. Some initiatives were highlighted, such as two World Bank resource projects in Tunisia, which addresses beekeeping as an incoming generating activity. Regional and national initiatives have a critical role to play in sharing knowledge, building capacity and supporting the development of better policies and practices.A number of responses were hopeful about the future of beekeeping. Bella Gabitashvili from Georgia suggests that the number of farmers interested in beekeeping is increasing, but more technical knowledge is required. Florence Egal in Italy gives an example of how beekeeping can be an optimal coping mechanism and livelihood strategy for displaced people and families who have lost livestock due to famine or conflict.While pollination was not a direct topic of this discussion there is clearly a need for further discussion on pollination services provided by honeybees. In particular, the challenges bees face in terms of habitat loss, invasive species, pathogens, agro-chemicals and climate change. Lal Manavado from Norway provided us with a succinct summary of some of the approaches needed to address some of these issues.We hope to follow up on the pollination issues next year. In the meantime, please do join the TECA knowledge base and Beekeeping exchange group to continue the discussion on best practices and technologies in the apiculture sector.
Many thanks to everyone so far who has participated in this discussion so far.
What is apparent is the interest in beekeeping and bee products is from people with a wide range of backgrounds from beekeepers to consumers to producers. The issues themselves are also vast, from food standards to marketing to livelihoods and income generation. Bees and beekeeping is having a bit of a renaissance, with news of bee decline in the news across the globe and urban beekeeping taking off in many continents.
These discussions are also timely as Apimondia, the world federation of beekeeper associations, holds its major apiculture congress in Korea this September. Early next year we will also see the launch of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report focussing on pollination.
We are looking forward to reading the next round of comments.
Thank you everyone who has taken part in this interesting discussion on the role of pollinators and promoting their role in environmental and agricultural practices. Responses were received from all over the world – pollination is clearly an issue that is widespread and topical. The result is a diverse range of priorities and practical solutions to promoting pollinators in agriculture – many of which can be adapted to a range of local conditions.
Information about how we can protect pollinators seems to be available, but more work needs to be done to raise awareness, answering questions such as What is pollination? Which species are pollinators? Why is pollination so important?.
In addition, more training and support is needed to promote pollinator-friendly practices. These issues, and, in particular, the question how we can tackle the human-induced challenges to pollinator species – especially the use of pesticides, habitat loss and climate change – need to be raised at a policy level.
These lessons will be shared through FAO networks and remain online as a valuable resource.
Thank you again for all your contributions.
Thank you all for the very interesting responses so far. It seems that issues affecting pollinators is reasonably well understood – although more research is still needed on the precise interactions between human activities and pollinators.
Access to information and awareness-raising is a common theme. Although some countries have a lot of information available to the public and country pollinator strategies (such as the UK), many countries do not. More accessible information needs to be made available to the public on how they can help pollinators at a local level. Training should also be given to agricultural workers – and included in extension services and college course curriculum.
In terms of agriculture, many suggestions were made to create habitats, buffer zones, field margins and so on for pollinator species. This in addition to planting flowering plants suitable for the local populations of insects. Mithare Prasad from India provides a succinct summary of solutions, in particular in relation to honey bees.
Urban planning is also an area of concern – where green areas and landscaping need to be pollinator friendly. Urban agriculture is practiced by 800 million people worldwide – so is not an insignificant area that needs to be proactive.
The need for policies that promote pollinator friendly agriculture and practices was also highlighted by several respondents. Lal Manavado from Norway provides a nice summary of the issues and suggests that it is possible to create a common strategy that can be adapted to local conditions.
We look forward to reading more of your comments in the coming few days.