Spring has sprung in Switzerland, and the bees in the three beehives at the roof of the International Trade Centre (ITC) headquarter in Geneva are greeting it with enthusiasm. Thousands of nectar and pollen-gathering bees have been liberated from the cold temperatures of the winter. They are flying across the urban surroundings in search of nourishment for themselves and their family, and they are pollinating hundreds of thousands of plants in the process.
It was in August 2020 that the ITC headquarter in Geneva got the three beehives. Throughout the summer, they expect, based on estimates, each beehive to have a population of about 20 000 bees and produce about 18-20 kg of pure honey. After having been bottled on customized bottles with ITC logos, the honey is planned to be sold to ITC staff.
In addition to the pollination of plants and the yield of tasteful and locally sourced honey, the presence of the bees on the roof will be used for staff awareness purposes. It is planned to do a workshop, organized by ITC and the contracted beekeeper, aimed at sensitizing ITC staff of the importance of bees and biodiversity overall. The Covid-19 situation has forced the plans to be delayed, but they hope to do the workshop in September 2021.
Having beehives on the roof of the ITC HQ became a reality after an ITC staff member shared with the ITC section on Central Support Services (CSS) a similar initiative in WTO. CSS decided to follow the WTO example and took the lead on the project. Amongst other things, they secured the annual regular budget funding and selected the contracted beekeeper following a procurement process.
The importance of bees can hardly be overestimated. Together with moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and butterflies, they make up the majority of pollinators. Close to 90% of all wild flowering plants depend on these pollinators for their reproduction, and pollinators affect 35% of global agricultural land. Their thriving existence is vital for ending world hunger and preserving and restoring the terrestrial ecosystems.