Sun | Oct 2, 2022

Earth Today | Bee engaged

Natural History Museum champions the celebration of bees

Published:Thursday | June 2, 2022 | 12:08 AM
Apismellifera, the honeybee, on Jatropha multifidi.
Apismellifera, the honeybee, on Jatropha multifidi.
Megachile species.
Megachile species.
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JAMAICA THIS year joined the observance of World Bee Day on May 20 with the hosting of a webinar on the theme ‘Bee Engaged: Celebrating the Diversity of Bees and Beekeeping Systems’.

The webinar was hosted by the Natural History Museum of Jamaica (NHMJ), a division of the Institute of Jamaica, through its Biodiversity Awareness Programme, sponsored by the operators of Highway 2000 East-West.

“This year’s general theme for the Biodiversity Awareness Programme is ‘Cleaner is Greener: Gardening and Me’. Some of the objectives of this programme include building the awareness of gardening best practices, environmental education, and highlighting conservation issues for schools and the general public. The importance of the role pollinators play in our gardening experiences, health, nutrition and, ultimately, our survival is reason for celebration,” the NHMJ said in a release to the media.

It is against this background that the webinar was hosted and attracted the support and participation of industry stakeholders, including host and insect enthusiast Gavin Campbell. Campbell, a PhD candidate in entomology, is the director of research at the National Commission for Science and Technology.

Other activities to mark World Bee Day 2022 included a blended launch and Bee Expo, hosted by the agriculture ministry at their head office.

The NHMJ, meanwhile, has noted its commitment to its role to facilitate research, raise awareness through education, and encourage the preservation of specimens that depict Jamaica’s natural history for national, regional and global conservation efforts – including bees.

“Our diverse collection contains approximately 500 specimens representing some 40 species of Jamaican bees. Our collection provides useful information for research in taxonomy, agriculture, and wildlife conservation. One of the highlights of the webinar this year was the visual showcasing of some of the different types of native bee species in Jamaica,” the entity explained.

Some are commonly known as digger bees, long-horned bees, Carpenter Bees, stingless bees, leaf-cutting bees, honeybees, metallic green bees, and sweat bees.

BEES WAIST

Bees are insects that belong to the order Hymenoptera, which also contains wasps, ants and sawflies. These insects, with the exception of sawflies, all have a waist. Bees are also some of the most beneficial insects. They are important pollinators that enable the production of food crops and the maintenance of our ecosystems. Further, it is estimated that one-third of the food consumed daily relies on pollination, mainly by bees and other insects, birds and bats!

“By observing World Bee Day each year, Jamaicans gain an opportunity to become more aware of the essential role bees and other pollinators play in keeping our people, ecosystems and, ultimately, our planet healthy and productive,” the NHMJ said.

“Though still vulnerable to the challenges of an ever-increasing threat to our environment, we have come to recognise that the beekeeping industry in Jamaica is alive and well. It forms an important agricultural activity organised through a network of committed resource personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in particular the Apiculture Unit,” the entity added.

“Today, the population of bees, insects, and many other pollinators are declining at an alarming rate. Initiatives like these provide context and an opportunity for all of us – whether we work in the creative industry, the private sector, government, as collective organisations, civil society or a concerned citizen – to promote actions that will encourage the protection of our bees and their habitats, improve their occurrence and diversity, and support the sustainable development of the beekeeping industry in Jamaica,” the NHMJ said further.