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A Slovenian apiary a new addition to the Vatican Gardens

Pope Francis has publicly supported Slovenia's efforts to protect bees and wild pollinators

Slovenian apiaries are not only a work tool or a piece of art, but have been increasingly used by Slovenia to its benefit as a communications channel to send a message to the world regarding the significance of bees for the preservation of life. In this sense, Slovenia also gave a Slovenian apiary to Pope Francis as a gift this May.

On Slovenia’s behalf, the Slovenian apiary was presented to the Pope by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Aleksandra Pivec and the Slovenian delegation. By doing so, they delivered the message of World Bee Day and of Slovenia's efforts to protect bees to the Holy See.

With this symbolic gift, Slovenia asked the Pope for his support in promoting greater awareness among the global public regarding the significance of protecting and preserving bees. Pope Francis immediately responded with a message on the awareness of the incredible importance of bees in the fight against famine, poverty, and in environmental protection.

“With this special gift which we would like to present to you while commemorating the 2nd World Bee Day, we wish to warn the global public and highlight how important it is to be aware of the contribution of bees to ensuring food safety, preserving biodiversity, protecting nature, and being aware of the need to protect bees and wild pollinators, which significantly contribute to this” Minister Aleksandra Pivec shared with the Pope and added that this coincides with the efforts of the Holy See to eliminate famine and poverty in the world and to protect creation.

The apiary, the design of which follows the elements of traditional Slovenian beekeeping, was made by master carpenter and beekeeping enthusiast Matija Čemažar and painted by Maja Mlakar, who added four motifs on the beehive panels. This apiary is to soon find a permanent spot in the gardens of the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, which serves as the Pope's summer residence.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Aleksandra Pivec and her colleagues on a visit to Pope Francis. Photo: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food

A challenge for all people of the world

There are approximately 20,000 different bee species in the world, but the most recognisable is the honeybee, a representative of which is the Slovenian Carniolan honeybee, the second most widespread subspecies in the world. Due to intensive agriculture, diseases, the mass use of plant protection products, and climate change, bees and other pollinators have been increasingly endangered. In Europe, nearly ten per cent of bees are at risk of extinction.

There is not much time left, so our determination must be that much greater. World Bee Day is, therefore, an opportunity for all people of the world to jointly, actively, concretely, and consciously approach bee preservation, beekeeping development, sustainable development, and the preservation of biodiversity. Slovenians have already taken this bee under their wing and committed to keeping Slovenia a green country.

Text by Tanja Glogovčan