Slovenia aims to become world's vanguard in beekeeping

VIDEO: REUTERS

SLOVENIA (Reuters) - They are vital for the world's food supply, responsible for pollinating one third of its global production.

But in recent years, honey bee populations have died at an alarming rate with colonies decreasing by 33 per cent in the United States and 13 per cent in the European Union in 2016 alone.

To publicise the pollinators' plight, the United Nations has declared May 20 as the first World Bee Day on the birthday of Europe's first beekeeper, Slovene Anton Jansa.

It is fitting as Slovenia wants to become the vanguard in beekeeping, with keepers such as Blaz Ambrozic keeping the native species - the Carniolan - alive.

Mr Ambrozic says: "We started to send it all over the world in the 18th century. She's hard-working. During the winter she lives in small colonies - about 5 to 10,000 bees. But in springtime she starts, the Queen, laying eggs very quickly and very hard. And in the summer, she can easily get to 60,000 bees."
Slovenia is the only European member state to have protected its native bee.

Even in capital Ljubljana, where urban beekeeper Gorazd Trusnovec tends 50 hives at 15 different locations.
He says: "I think that Slovenia could set an example in the way that we are treating the bees and with our relation to the bees - and the stress that we are putting to their well-being."

With five beekeepers per every thousand people, and eight hives per square kilometre, api-tourism is booming in the Alpine country, with rooftops abuzz with hives.