Wild bees are essential for the reproduction of nearly 90% of plant species, and are also critical providers of pollination services for more than 60% of agricultural crops species, contributing about one third of the global food production. In the past decade the role of wild bees as crop pollinators has gained substantial attention because they can compensate for the reported declines in honeybee populations by assuring enough pollinators and by pollinating some crops more effectively than managed honeybees. However, wild bees have proven susceptible to the degradation of natural habitats, as their abundance and diversity are negatively affected by habitat loss and landscape homogenization. A disruption in pollination services could have important negative ecological and economic consequences, because the cessation of these services could reduce wild plant diversity, narrow ecosystem stability, reduce crop production, and decrease food security and human welfare.
In Brazil there are 244 described species of native stingless bees, and more than half of them occur in the Amazon. A decline in local stingless bee populations would imply severe risks to the maintenance of Amazon biodiversity and threaten yields of the main crops grown in the area, including palm trees as the açaí (Euterpe olereacea), cocoa (Theobroma cacao), cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflora) and peppers (Capsicum spp). Such a decline could thus affect food security and income generation in traditional communities that rely on these resources.
Instituto Peabiru has been working with stingless beekeeping for the past ten years. Currently, 310 stingless beekeepers of 30 rural communities in the Brazilian states of Amapá and Pará, are involved in the Amazon Nectar project. It is a 2 years initiative, with investments of R$ 2 million, funded by the Amazon Fund and the BNDES. The main objective of the Project is to promote the use of beekeeping as a tool to achieve sustainable development. Indeed, keeping bees help low-income communities earn additional revenues from selling bee products, thus reducing the need to exploit other natural resources and creating incentives to protect natural habitats as food sources and nesting sites for the bees. Moreover, beekeeping contributes to the provision of pollination services, assuring crop yields and helping maintain plant biodiversity in natural ecosystems. The Peabiru Institute estimates that the project supports the protection of about 17,000 hectares of forest environments, savannah and wetland. The project aims to reach the excluded families from rural areas of the Brazilian Amazon, as well as raise awareness about the importance of bees, pollination and ecosystem services.
The Peabiru Institute, the Vale Institute of Technology – Sustainable Development (ITV-DS), and Marahú studios, with the support of Embrapa Amazônia Oriental, produced a short trailer to raise awareness on this project and stimulate a debate about the actions that could follow. The video will be presented during the official release of the Pollination Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), taking place on 20-21st February 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.