Busy little bees

World Bee Day was named by the UN to help these endangered insects. Here you can discover which contribution Germany is making.

Mankind depends on them: honey bees.
Mankind depends on them: honey bees. Dave Massey - stock.adobe.com

“Summ, summ, summ, Bienchen summ herum” is a song that every child in Germany knows. In 1845 August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the text to the melody of a traditional song. But over the years, the line saying we wouldn’t do anything to harm the tiny bee (ei, wir tun Dir nichts zuleide) has turned out to be an empty promise. Because, like so many other insects, the bees are having a tough time. And we humans are to blame. The destruction of habitats, but most of all the use of insecticides in agriculture, are threatening the bees’ existence.

World Bee Day is on 20 May

This is why the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 20 May World Bee Day in 2018. In so doing, the international community is stressing how crucial it is to protect the world’s bee populations. These insects are not only fascinating because they develop colonies and communities; they are also valued for their honey and their trailblazing honeycomb technology. Three-quarters of all food crops around the globe, and consequently the feeding of the world population, depend on bees pollinating plants in order to develop fruit and to reproduce.

Plump, furry version of a wild bee: a bumble bee pollinating.
Plump, furry version of a wild bee: a bumble bee pollinating. bryana - stock.adobe.com

BeesUp helps wild bee experts

Germany is home not only to the domesticated western honey bee and its 25 or so subspecies. There are also more than 560 different types of wild bee, which also include the bumble bee. Protecting them is extremely difficult because of the different challenges to their habitats and the fact that there are very few experts with the necessary specialist knowledge. This is why the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation is supporting the BeesUp project. The knowledge of just a few experts will now be accessible to many nature conservationists via an app. The tool will recognize 300 wild bee species, and compile the details of environments, crop foods and nesting conditions that can then be applied to local settings.

Artificial Intelligence supports identification app

Within the project a separate interactive identification app will be developed for the general public. In order to develop the recognition feature, several hundred photos for each type of wild bee will be needed to train the artificial neural network. These photos will be provided by the handful of wild bee experts in Germany.

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