More than 75 percent of the world’s food crops rely on pollinators, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Through their pollination, bees not only promote biodiversity, but also secure our food supply.
But one in four species of bee is at risk of extinction in North America, according to the United Nations Environment Program. And the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has recorded declines in bee populations in Europe, South America, and Asia.
A combination of factors are contributing to the decline of bees, including habitat loss and degradation, pesticide use, the invasive parasitic Varroa destructor mite, and other diseases. The effects of climate change are compounding these stressors on bee populations worldwide.
But people around the world are working to create an environment that helps bees thrive. In honor of National Honey Month, Food Tank is highlighting 15 organizations and initiatives working to preserve the livelihood of bees, the ecosystem, and the global food supply.
1. Bees for Development, United Kingdom
Bees for Development is an international organization that utilizes beekeeping as a tool to alleviate poverty and retain biodiversity around the world. They work in over 50 countries within local communities, and implement sustainable beekeeping techniques that use only local bees and local resources. They have an open-access information portal that provides information on bees and beekeeping worldwide. Bees for Development also provides advice and guidance to the World Bank, the United Nations, and other international organizations.
2. BEES for the World, Germany
BEES for the World is dedicated to designing sustainable supply chains for high quality organic-certified bee products all over the world. Their commitment is to Biodiversity, Education, Empowerment, and Sustainability (BEES). They work primarily within African countries to support forest beekeeping. By empowering local communities in the production of high-quality beeswax and connecting them to markets, the group protects local ecosystems while fostering the creation of jobs.
3. Elephant and Bees Project, Kenya
What began as a strategic plan to save the elephants, grew into a conservation project for elephants and bees alike. The Elephant and Bees Project uses beehive fences – a natural deterrent of elephants – to keep elephants off of farmland, reducing crop damage. This not only increases protected habitats for bees, but also helps educate farmers on the relationship between bees and crop health. The project supports increased bee populations and works in multiple countries throughout Africa.
4. Federation of Nepal Beekeepers, Nepal
The Federation of Nepal Beekeepers was established in 1999 to support and empower local beekeepers throughout Nepal. This umbrella organization advocates for national policies that benefit beekeepers, their bees, and their livelihoods. The organization also works to increase the capacity of beekeepers by training and educating farmers on the importance of bees in pollination and pasture management.
5. Honeybee Research Institute, Pakistan
The Honeybee Research Institute promotes beekeeping in Pakistan with the honeybee Apis mellifera. While Apis mellifera honey bees were initially imported from Australia, the species has thrived in Pakistan since the late 1970s. With over 400,000 colonies present today, the bees contribute to increased honey production, income-production for rural populations, and increasing biodiversity. The Institute provides beekeeping training courses, promotes beekeeping for income generation, and has on-going research projects.
6. Pesticide Action Network Europe, Belgium
Founded in 1987, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN Europe) is a network of consumer, public health, and environmental organizations, trades unions, women’s groups, and farmer associations from across Europe. As advocates for a pesticide-free Europe, PAN Europe works closely with government representatives to try to reduce the use of hazardous pesticides. Through their European Citizens’ Initiative, “Save Bees and Farmers”, they are collecting signatures and calling on the European Commission to phase out synthetic pesticides in agriculture by 2035.