Honey, Biodiversity, Creativity

Bees have always played a crucial role in safeguarding biodiversity. With around 2,000 species recorded in the European territory, they represent the primary pollinator not only of the ecosystem but also of agricultural crops. Pollination is one of the most important ecosystem services provided by nature; these insects directly influence the yield and quality of about 85% of flowering plants and 75% of globally significant crops such as coffee, cocoa, and oilseeds, making food security and variability highly dependent on their work. It is therefore understood that any loss of the beekeeping heritage would automatically constitute a catastrophic productive loss both for agriculture and biodiversity. In addition to their importance in biodiversity, bees provide numerous benefits through the production of honey and other beekeeping products, such as propolis and wax. In Italy, the National Observatory estimated in 2022 a honey production of about 24,000 tons, with a total value of 144 million euros, demonstrating its considerable role in agriculture and the economy of the territory.

Observations conducted using scientific methods testify to the progressive decline of some pollinator species in all European countries. The main threats are due to human activities that modify their habitat, particularly the indiscriminate use of pesticides, land consumption, changes in cultivation practices, urbanization, pollution, excessive grazing, abandonment of rural areas with consequent natural reforestation, climate change, and the spread of parasites and diseases carried by the introduction of new invasive alien species. In 2018, the Italian IUCN Committee, on behalf of the Ministry of Environment, compiled the Red List for bees. In total, there are 151 native bee species in Italy, of which 5 are critically endangered, 2 are endangered, 10 are threatened, 4 are vulnerable (in total, 21 species are at risk of extinction), and another 13 are near threatened.

This project aims to raise awareness among young people about the central role of bees in the ecosystem, promoting awareness of their crucial importance for biodiversity, the methods of honey production, and the beneficial properties for human health it possesses. The project will be carried out in Volpignano (PA) and will include various phases:

Arrival on site and forest walk

The school group, accompanied by an Agronomist/Naturalist/Biologist, will take a walk through the woods of Volpignano, where they will be shown the characteristics of the surrounding flora and the wild bee hives.

Introduction to bees and their activity

Theoretical lesson on bee biology (conducted by a beekeeper): how bees are made, the organization of families, and the role of each individual, the structure of the hive, pollination, and the typical “dance” for resource identification.

Didactic beehive

Practical demonstration with the didactic beehive (conducted by a beekeeper): management of a beehive, including the tools used, safety, and the importance of sustainable practices. Honey: how it is produced, its medicinal qualities. Honey tasting.

Importance of bees for humanity

Conclusion of the day with the final lesson on “Why bees are important for biodiversity and environmental conservation” and reflection on what we can do to contribute to their well-being.

Creative Project

Each class, at the end of the educational day, will receive informative sheets (designed by the CREA Agricultural and Environmental Research Center and the Department of Biological Geological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Bologna, attached) and will be encouraged to develop a project entitled “Playing for Bees,” where students will be invited to use their creativity to devise solutions that can improve the life of bees in everyday life. The winning school will receive a “bee care kit” containing the tools and materials needed to start or improve their bee care project, including flowering plants, portable hives, etc.

This multidisciplinary project will provide students with practical and theoretical knowledge about bees, hives, and the implications of their conservation, encouraging them to become guardians of biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

Finally, part of the activities planned for 2024 will focus on restoring the native Sicilian flora. In this context, expert agronomists will be involved to conduct thorough surveys and determine the most appropriate strategies to preserve the rich botanical diversity of the region.

For detailed information about the bee protection and conservation project, we invite you to download the relevant documents at the following links:

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