Dr Connal Eardley is organizing the Twelfth International Symposium on Pollination (ISPXII) at Kirstenbosch, Cape Town during 16-20 October 2023. This is the Symposium of the International Commission on Plant Pollinator Relations (ICCPR). A commission of the International Union on Biological Science (IUBS). It is a prestigious event being held here in South Africa for the first time anywhere in Africa.
Connal Eardley studied bee taxonomy for over 45 years. There are over 1 300 bee species in South Africa and the honeybee is only one of those species. He worked for the Plant Protection Research Institute, Agricultural Research Council, and is now retired.
Diversity in all ecosystems, including agroecosystems, improves productivity and resilience to change in the immediate environment. Therefore, bee conservation is important to natural and agro- ecosystems. The diversity in flowering plants, which includes different crops, coevolved with the pollinators and some plants are better pollinated by relatively few insect species. Mostly a diversity of pollinators tends to get the job of pollination done better, even for flowers that attract a diversity of pollinators.
Therefore, we need to look after all aspects of pollination in South Africa. For biodiversity in natural areas and to improve productivity in agricultural lands so that more natural areas are not turned into cropland in order to feed all South Africans. Managed pollination in South African agriculture relying on one pollinator is a huge food insecurity.
As pollinators are essential for seed production and a loss of pollinator biodiversity will hugely diminish all biodiversity,
ISPXII will bring many of the worlds to pollination biologists to South Africa. The programme includes different aspects of pollination. However, the value of the symposium is to meet both the presenters and other attendees because they all have skills beyond what is seen in the programme.