May 20 was World Bee Day. It was established in 2017 by the UN to spread awareness about the hardworking insect and other pollinators who have a vital role to play in agriculture, maintaining the ecological balance and biodiversity conservation. May 20 was chosen because it marks the birth anniversary of Anton Jasna, a pioneer of modern beekeeping.

Unfortunately, the population of bees and other pollinators have shown a steady decline because of the destruction of their habitat, the use of pesticides and industrial chemicals in agriculture, the rise of invasive species, climate change and aggressive agricultural practices.

World Bee Day is also an opportunity to promote biodiversity and sustainable agriculture. The awareness campaign also focuses on little known facts about the bee. For example, there are over 20,000 different species of bees in the world except for Antarctica.

It is not for nothing that bees are said to be busy and industrious. They can fly 9 km at a stretch clocking a speed of about 24 kmph. A single bee visits 50-100 flowers in one collection trip. For one kg of honey, a hive of bees has to fly a mind-boggling 1.44 lakh km. An average bee produces only a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

Bees are the only insects domesticated to an extent by humans. On World Bee Day, people are encouraged to visit local beekeepers to learn more about their work and the importance of bees. They are also persuaded to start keeping bees to support the bee population.