KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The United Nations is observing World Bee Day on May 20.

There remains a growing concern for aiding and saving the buzzing pollinators as they play a critical role in the environment and human food supply. This year’s theme is “Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems.”

According to the UN and its Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 80% of human food is supplied by plants. The loss of pollinators like bees, bats, birds, butterflies and more could lead to “an exponential loss of biodiversity, which would endanger our ecosystems and our diet.”

The UN says most of the 25,000 to 30,000 species of bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) are effective pollinators and help supply farmers throughout the world with crop pollination. This helps to ensure food security for the world’s population. Honey hunting of wild bee colonies also remains an essential practice for forest-dependent cultures in developing countries.

“Pollinators allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce. Indeed, the food that we eat, such as fruits and vegetables, directly relies on pollinators,” the UN states on its World Bee Day page. “A world without pollinators would equal a world without food diversity — no blueberries, coffee, chocolate, cucumbers and so much more.”

Why care about bees and other pollinators?

The UN says nearly 90% of all wild flowering plants depend on some form of animal or insect pollination. Plus, pollinators affect 35% of global agricultural land. Caring about bees and other pollinators is part of the fight against world hunger.

What can I do to help bees?

Anyone can help combat bee decline and colony collapse. Here’s how:

  • Plant a diverse set of native plants that flower at different times of the year
  • Buy raw honey from local farmers
  • Buy products from sustainable agricultural practices
  • Avoid pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides in our gardens
  • Protect wild bee colonies when possible
  • Sponsor a hive
  • Make a bee water fountain by leaving a water bowl outside
  • Help sustain forest ecosystems
  • Raise awareness by sharing information within communities and networks
  • Reduce or change the usage of pesticides

World Bee Day 2022 virtual event

The UN is holding discussions with virtual events on how to “bee engaged” and the importance of pollinators in our ecosystems on World Bee Day.

The virtual event will feature bee and pollinator experts and practitioners from across the world and will be available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian languages.

You can register and view the virtual event here.