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Minister Židan: "We are well on track to having 20 May declared World Bee Day"

Ljubljana, 19 May 2017 – 20 May marks the birthday of Anton Janša (1734–1773), a pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the leading authorities on bees at the time. This prominent teacher of modern beekeeping, appointed by Empress Maria Theresa as permanent teacher of beekeeping at the newly established beekeeping school in Vienna, inspired the Beekeepers' Association of Slovenia to propose the United Nations Organisation declare 20 May World Bee Day. Minister Židan expressed his belief that for the first time Slovenia would succeed in having a day declared within the United Nations; it is to be dedicated to bees and to remind the whole world about bees and their great importance for humanity, as well as to increase Slovenia’s visibility. "Slovenian beekeepers and the Carniolan grey bee (Kranjska sivka) always have and will be our pride, the whole world will get to know us through the Carniolan grey bee; we have been given full support and respect for having ensured such a prominent place to bees."

Currently, the formal exploration of the background to Slovenia’s initiative to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day is in progress; this is a long and complicated process. The initiative has received unanimous support in discussions within the subsidiary bodies of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); final approval by the Ministerial Conference of the FAO is expected in July this year. The subsequent discussion will be held at the UN in New York; Slovenia expects a final confirmation at the UN General Assembly in December this year. Before the formal discussion within the UN, the initiative had received unanimous support of all national beekeepers' associations at the Apimondia congress in South Korea. 


Beekeeping is an important part of Slovenia's tradition and cultural heritage, Slovenia boasts more than 10,000 beekeepers, and the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association, which put forward the World Bee Day initiative, is among the best organised and most active organisations. Beekeeping in Slovenia is not a mere economic activity; it has become linked to a way of thinking about the environment and other societal issues. The joint operation of beekeepers and the government in recent years has initiated a broad social movement in support of protecting bees and nature, linking producers and consumers at a local level and using the knowledge, experience and tradition of beekeeping to face contemporary challenges.


The measures carried out in Slovenia in the context of the overall support provided to the sector include the funding of public beekeeping advisory services and the public specialised veterinary services for bee health care; the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted a special document – Resolution on the protection of the Carniolan bee. Slovenia is also sensitive to the issue of plant protection products and their harmful effects on bees – in 2011, a national ban on the use of neonicotinoid seed treatment for crops was introduced. 


Particular attention is paid to raising public awareness about bees and beekeeping, especially that of young people. The Honey Breakfast project initiated by the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association and subsequently upgraded to the Traditional Slovenian Breakfast and the Slovenian Food Day is an example of good practice. This educational and promotional campaign targeted kindergartens and primary schools and has recently been extended to other public institutions; it is organised hand-in-hand with the Ministries and beekeepers. The project has evolved into an international endeavour – a European Honey Breakfast joined by a growing number of countries. 


Another well-received promotional activity is the interactive exhibition pavilion, Bee World, which is aimed at promoting not only bees, other pollinators and beekeeping in general, but also Slovenian craft, technological know-how, practitioners, and Slovenian wood. The pavilion features local melliferous plants photographed by Slovenian photographers; this demanding video production was entrusted to Slovenian professionals and the computer applications were developed by local expertise. The pavilion is a technological achievement in all respects and it is with pride that it is exhibited in Slovenia and around the world.


The project was first presented last autumn at the FAO headquarters in Rome, it was also exhibited in Berlin and at the EU institutions in Brussels; its next stop is the Vatican, followed by Turkey and China in autumn and the United Nations in New York in December. We are convinced that coming year will see the celebration of World Bee Day, as the countries and the general public agree with us and share the same opinion about the importance of bees for humanity, especially in the prevention of hunger, and in protecting the environment and biodiversity.


More information about World Bee Day:

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