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It’s time to celebrate good work of bees

Kenya today joins the rest of the world in marking the World Bee Day, which was set aside to celebrate the good work of the insects that are key in pollinating crops.

The inaugural celebrations are aimed at drawing the attention to the plight of bees in the world and highlighting the importance of preserving the insects and other pollinating species.

The crucial role the bees play is the reason the United Nations General Assembly, sitting in Washington DC, in the US, on December 20, last year, declared May 20 the World Bee Day.

The Apiculture Platform of Kenya (APK) in collaboration with the State Department of Livestock, Equity Bank and the County Government of West Pokot are leading the celebrations in the country.

There has been significant loss of pollinators, especially the honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies in the recent past due to environmental degradation through pollution and destruction of vegetative cover.

If this problem is not addressed, it will pose a significant challenge to the sustainability of food production systems.

Studies by the United Nations and the International Union for Conservation of Nature show that bee populations and the populations of other pollinators have significantly decreased.

However, the number of managed honey bee colonies in Kenya has risen as more people get involved in apiculture.

But there are reports of lack of bee swarms to occupy hives, especially in the developed countries due to a combination of stressors, including loss of natural forage and inadequate diets, mite infestations and diseases, loss of genetic diversity, and exposure to certain pesticides.

Contributing to these high loss rates is a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which there is a rapid, unexpected, and catastrophic loss of bees in a hive.

The inclusion of genetically modified organism in the crop agriculture is associated with further contributing to declining colonies as their pollen and nectar are said to affect the physiology of bees making them unable to navigate back to their nests.

In response to these challenges and in an effort to protect bees and other pollinators, research institutions should be strengthened to provide for pollinator habitat conservation, pollinator forage and pollinator health.

APK was established in 2016 and registered as a society in 2017 to enhance the contribution of honey bees to food and nutritional security as well as improved livelihoods for social economic development.

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