Embattled Bees Find New Champion in German Chancellor Merkel

(Bloomberg) -- Grappling with a raft of international crises, including terrorist threats, Iran’s nuclear program and conflict in Syria, Angela Merkel still found time on Wednesday to highlight the plight of bees.

The German chancellor concluded a major policy speech to the lower house of parliament, in which she addressed topics as diverse as a looming trade war and this week’s bloodshed in Gaza, with a reminder that May 20 is the inaugural World Bee Day.

“I want to finish with something that some may consider insignificant but is actually very important: on May 20 next week is the first World Bee Day,” Merkel said, drawing a mixture of laughter and consternation from the various political groups in the Bundestag chamber. “So on this day we should really think about biodiversity and do something good for the bees.”

Beekeeping Pioneer

Backing a proposal from Slovenia, the United Nations adopted World Bee Day in December as part of a global effort to protect bees and other pollinators to promote food security, sustainable farming and nutrition.

May is the month when bees in the northern hemisphere are most active and begin to reproduce, while May 20 is the birthday of Slovenian apiculturist Anton Jansa, an 18th-century pioneer of modern beekeeping.

Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led government was a strong supporter of tighter European Union restrictions on pesticides linked to harming bees agreed last month. In what’s become known as the “pollinator crisis,” nearly 10 percent of European bee species face extinction and around 5 percent are probably endangered, according to a 2015 report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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