World Bee Day, May 20, is upon us!
Established to raise awareness of the vital role bees and other pollinators play in keeping people and the planet healthy, World Bee Day is celebrated globally as well as locally across Australia.
Honey bees and native bees play an important role in pollinating native plants in our ecosystem.
Bees make excellent pollinators because they spend most of their short lives collecting pollen.
Pollen, produced by flowers, is a source of protein that bees feed to their developing offspring.
When a bee lands on a flower, the hairs all over the bees' body attract pollen grains through electrostatic forces.
Bees groom this pollen into specialised brushes or pockets on their legs or body, and carry it to their nest.
In this act of food gathering, bees provide the plant with a pollination service.
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of a flower of the same species, which results in fertilisation of plant ovaries and the development of seeds and their nutritious housing of nut, fruit or vegetable.
To provide this pollination service, beekeepers migrate their bees to flowering crops for short periods.
When honey bees aren't pollinating crops, beekeepers transport them to mass flowering events, the major draw being native gum trees, but also to a few crops like canola, lucerne, macadamia or orange blossom which can produce enough nectar for harvestable honey crops.
In other cases, hives may be transported to agistment on diverse plants providing the nutrition required for hive recovery after a stressful time such as drought, bushfire, flood, prolonged rain or contact with pesticides.
Celebrating pollinators for all they do to secure our food supply is what World Bee Day is all about.
In Australia, celebrations are coordinated by the Wheen Bee Foundation, our only local registered not-for-profit charity that promotes awareness of the importance of bees for food security and raises funds for research that addresses national and global threats to bees.
Wheen Bee Foundation's newest partnership with Australian Farmers' Markets Association (AFMA) through the 'We Need Bees' campaign is a tasty opportunity for you and your family to make like a bee and forage at a farmers' market near you.
To find a participating market near you or another World Bee Day event visit: www.worldbeeday.org.au