NETHERLANDS, May 19 – News item | 19-05-2022 | 15:17
This year we are celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations with Slovenia. To mark this, on May 20 – World Bee Day – the Netherlands will gift Slovenia with a bee house. Dutch Ambassador Johan Verboom talks about bee culture in Slovenia. “Bees are almost sacred here,” he says.
Many schools in Slovenia have a bee house, so from an early age children learn about the importance of bees. In addition to producing honey, bees also pollinate many crops that we eat. “We donate a bee house to a school in Duplek, which is a two-hour drive from the capital, Ljubljana,” says Johan. “We have invited Belgium and Luxembourg to join us, so the presentation will be a Benelux event.”
After discussions with the Slovenian Embassy in The Hague, it was decided to celebrate this anniversary in both countries. The Slovenian embassy will therefore plant 30 rose bushes in the Westbroek park in The Hague, because roses also depend on bees for pollination.
Slovenia only became an independent nation in 1991. Until then, it was part of the former Yugoslavia. In 2004, it became the first country in the region to join the European Union.
As Johan points out, Slovenia and the Netherlands have been close partners ever since. They seek to support each other within the EU and NATO and as a Schengen country. “We work closely together in many areas and our bilateral relations are excellent,” he said. “Trade between our countries amounts to 1.7 billion euros per year and it continues to grow. All the flowers I see here come from the Netherlands, and our innovative solutions for a circular economy are attracting considerable interest. In turn, we import pharmaceutical and agricultural products and machinery from Slovenia.
The Netherlands is popular among Slovenians. “Dutch is taught at the University of Ljubljana and we now have 400 alumni in our database,” says Johan. “Dutch books are translated into Slovenian and Dutch artists organize exhibitions here. This month, for example, there is a photo exhibition and an exhibition on biodesign.
world bee day
Bees are almost sacred in Slovenia, which has more beekeepers than any other country in the world – four out of every thousand Slovenians keep bees. Wherever Ambassador Johan Verboom goes, he sees apiaries. “The facades of the bee houses are painted in various bright colors and patterns,” he says. “The main goal is to help beekeepers separate the different families of bees, but the houses are also works of art that brighten up the landscape.”
Because bees are so important to Slovenians, they successfully lobbied the United Nations for a World Bee Day. Starting in 2018, people around the world celebrate the role of bees and other pollinators on May 20. This is the birth date of Anton Janša, a pioneer of modern beekeeping. “Namesake of Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša!
“Slovenes are experts in beekeeping,” continues Johan. “Each year, the country produces 25 tons of honey. There are around 170,000 bee colonies here and 500 species of bees. Johan is particularly impressed by the fact that the honey is both produced and sold locally. “Beekeeping is the national sport.
Protecting bees in the Netherlands and elsewhere
Bees not only produce honey, they also pollinate many food crops, especially fruits and vegetables. Without bees, we would lose these foods and our food security would be at risk.
In the Netherlands, wild bees are threatened by urbanization and intensive agriculture. The Netherlands has therefore developed an action plan to protect bees and other pollinators essential to our food supply.
At the international level, the Netherlands has taken the initiative for countries to work more closely together to promote bees and other pollinators. These countries form the Coalition of Volunteers on Pollinators.
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