It is estimated that 5-8 per cent of current global crop production, with an annual market value of US $235 billion - $577 billion (in 2015) worldwide, is directly attributable to pollination and around 1.4 billion jobs worldwide depend on pollinators.
Although the health of honey bees and bumble bees is threatened by a host of factors including habitat loss, pesticides, pathogens, parasites and climate change, there is no geographic wide-scale data available about the status and dynamics of honey bee and bumble bee populations.
This is why the World Bee Project is launching the first phase of its World Hive Network on 21 June this year, using remote hive-monitoring technology enabled by Arnia.
The World Hive Network will provide an immensely rich dataset for scientists and government to assess the health and dynamics of honey bee and bumble bee populations and will keep us informed of the positive changes we can make to our environment and practices to improve bee welfare.
Through its network of remotely monitored honey bee hives and bumble bee nests, the World Hive Network will generate significant data on the impact of factors such as land use, agricultural practices and forage quality, on the health and productivity of honey bees and bumble bees. The automatic, remote collection of data will contribute to the understanding of diseases, parasites and predatory species and will help with the development of control measures. It will also help improve understanding of pollination deficits and refine understanding of agri-environment monitoring and evaluation, strengthen existing surveillance, support the needs of policy and contribute to Defra’s National Pollinator Strategy.
The World Hive Network will enable the development of data driven best management practices for beekeepers to make a valuable contribution to beekeeping training and education programmes.
It will provide an early warning system to alert beekeepers of potential problems due to increases in diseases, pests or shortages of forage, and so forth. It will identify local issues in real time and facilitate warnings to beekeepers in affected areas to allow prompt action (for example, a nectar dearth requiring beekeepers to check food stores, or identification of pests such as small hive beetle or the Asian hornet).
The World Hive Network is a also a unique way of engaging the general public with issues of biodiversity and pollinator conservation. By following the lives of real bee colonies in gardens, parks, wildflower meadows and vegetable gardens people can gain insights into what bees need to survive and thrive.
WE WANT CHILDREN TO THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THE WORLD WE LIVE IN
At Royal Botanic Gardens Kew we have been talking with children about plant-pollinator interactions and about the global importance of honey bees. Children were fascinated to learn that all pollinator species rely on habitat, and all are essential for pollination without which we wouldn’t have the fruits and vegetables we love to eat.
COLLABORATIONS WITH SCHOOLS
It’s important that children participate in bigger conversations about biodiversity and engage in activities that inspire them to live lives that make a difference to the lives of others and to our planet. We are designing programmes to spark children’s inherent sense of wonder and curiosity and enhance their learning ability. We will explore bees and pollination to understand biodiversity, ecosystems, climate change, food security and sustainability, democracy, animal welfare, history, art, maths and music. We will also offer opportunities for developing practical skills, for example, learning basic carpentry skills to construct hives and planting skills to plant pollinator gardens.
The activities will include interpreting the World Hive Network audio data to inspire children to do all they can to look after bees and other pollinators.
“School doesn’t have to be a place, but rather a frame of mind that uses the Arts as a lever to explosive growth, social-emotional connections, and the foundation for the innovators of tomorrow…today!”
The World Hive Network can provide an endless well of resources which can be used in STEAM education, covering topics from biology/botany: bee and plant anatomy, bee/plant interactions, seasonal changes, pollination and. geography/environment: ecosystem, land use, food chain, food security, weather, climate change to design & technology: computing, programming, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, Big Data, science/mathematics: measurement, data analysis, generating graphs, statistics, correlations.
An unprecedented study integrating data from around the globe has shown that honey bees are the world's most important single species of pollinator in natural ecosystems and a key contributor to natural ecosystem functions.