World Bee Day

World Bee Day

History and Fun Facts

5/20/2024 | Angela Whitlock, CSRA and Marina Montez-Ellis, Garden Program Specialist

The purpose of World Bee Day is to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators for the ecosystem, and to honor and celebrate their presence and necessity. Bees are considered one of the hardest working and most important insects on earth. Our prairies and food crops depend on native bees for pollination, and Illinois is home to about 500 native bee species. At Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, one can often find bees hard at work in the Botanical Garden! 

Bees are also vital in sustainable agriculture and creating rural jobs. Their process of pollination helps increase agricultural production, which aids in maintaining diversity and variety in fields and in the food we consume. They are also an important source of income for farmers and help to provide millions of people with jobs.  


The United Nations approved Slovenia’s proposal to proclaim May 20th as World Bee Day in 2017. But how did this idea originate, and why choose May 20th as the date?  

World Bee Day is celebrated on May 20th because it coincides with the baptism of Anton Janša, the pioneer of beekeeping. Anton was born in 1734 in Slovenia. He was both a painter and an apiarist, which is another word for beekeeper. His early interest in beekeeping was perhaps owed to his father, who had over one hundred hives at home. In 1769, Anton began to work as a beekeeper full-time. A year later, he became the first royally appointed teacher of apiculture for Austria, keeping bees in imperial gardens and traveling throughout the country to present his observations on moving hives to various pastures.  

Anton is noteworthy for changing the size and shape of his hives to a form where they can be stacked together like blocks, and he advocated for moving hives to pastures. Without his unique approach to beekeeping, our understanding of bees may be quite different today.  


Our gardens, yards, fields, and prairies are vitally important to the life cycle of the bee. Compost and leaf piles, logs and tree hollows, are all places that bees can and will use for hibernation. Keeping these locations available in your garden during the winter will help support bee populations during the summer. 

Below are some ways you can observe World Bee Day: 

  • Visit a beekeeper and learn about their work.  

  • Have a bee breakfast, with items that contain honey and other hive products.  

  • Plant nectar-bearing flowers.  

  • Buy honey and other hive products locally.  

  • Set up a pollinator garden. Check out instructions on how to do this here.  

  • Use pesticides that do not harm bees. 

  • Support a beekeeping/environmental charity.  

  • Share World Bee Day with others.  


Sources:, (Republic of Slovenia – online), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (online), 

Image Credit: Unsplash