The increased annual losses in honeybee (Apis mellifera) colonies in Europe and North America is quite alarming because bees are globally important for crop pollination. Carelessness in pesticide application has led to overuse of pesticides and antibiotic resistance in honeybee parasites. Human activity is also causing the spread of pathogens that harm bee species.
The United Nations says the world's bees face multiple threats and unless something is done to halt their decline, there could be serious long-term consequences for our food supplies. Without bees, we face a massive pollination crisis that will affect the whole planet.
"The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century," said United Nations Environment Programme executive director, Mr. Achim Steiner.
Mr. Martin Smith, President of the British Beekeepers Association, says: "The BBKA is very pleased that the United Nations recognises the economic importance of managed honey bees, which make a £153 billion contribution to global food production.”
"We urge increased planting of wild flower margins around agricultural fields and also stronger guidance to local authorities on increasing flowering trees and wild flower planting in towns and cities." This is also very good advice that should be urgently heeded by tourism planners, conference centre managers and hotel accommodation owners.
"The problems facing honeybees today are complex and will not be easy to mitigate," says bee researcher Mr. Robert Owen from the Entomological Society of America. “Until people accept responsibility for the environment and acknowledge that our actions are making the future a less attractive place in which to live, we are doomed to live in a less sustainable world.”
So how exactly could the MICE and group travel sectors help alleviate this situation? How could #eventprofs and group travel planners assist in maintaining and supporting honeybee populations in MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences & exhibitions) and group holiday destinations?
One interesting idea that can be easily applied and enjoyed is the concept of HIVESHARE – whereby companies or individuals purchase shares in beehives and organic honey production.
An excellent example of hiveshare in practice is Brookfield Farm on the shores of Lough Derg in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Its owner, Ms. Ailbhe Gerrard, is not only interested in bees but is keen to make her farm a sanctuary for wildlife and insects, as well as producing excellent farm food.
Photo: Honeycomb © Brookfield Farm Ireland
Brookfield Farm honey is a raw Irish honey gathered by bees from the large range of seasonal Irish wildflowers and tree blossoms.
“We do very little to the honey, just extract from the natural comb and filter before putting this raw super-food into jars. Our bees are native Irish black bees, well adapted to our damp and cool climate. Bees travel up to five miles to forage for nectar and pollen. Each bee collects about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her entire lifetime, so it is very precious” says Ms. Gerrard.
What could be nicer for MICE event participants and group holiday customers than honey from their own hive/s? Hiveshare helps bees and beekeepers and gives holidaymakers a unique insight into sustainability and the cycle of seasons on the farm and the story of their very “own bees and hives”. An added bonus is the natural handmade beeswax candles and honey gift boxes made on farms that often come with Hiveshare.
Dedicated farm visits can also bring this important environmental issue to life and make it far more personal and memorable during the course of a MICE event or an escorted tour to a holiday / business travel destination. Locally produced honey is also to be highly recommended for all breakfast buffets - a healthy and environmentally beneficial way to kick off any day - and as dedicated personal room gifts!