Golden Bee goes to Serbian researcher Slobodan Davidović

Ljubljana, 24 May - The Golden Bee, the highest national prize for beekeeping achievements, was conferred on Wednesday on Serbian researcher Slobodan Davidović. Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko, who chaired the committee picking the winner, said Davidović was a promising young researcher with advanced ideas and the ability to bring team members together.

"The Golden Bee Award is certainly one of Slovenia's main tools in raising awareness of the importance of pollinators and promoting specific achievements in their protection. This year's focus on science is in line with its central importance in addressing global challenges," said President Nataša Pirc Musar at today's ceremony at the Presidential Palace, calling for more investment in research.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food launched a call for nominations for the Golden Bee award last December. A dozen applications arrived from eight countries: three from Serbia, two each from Ukraine and Germany, and one each from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Spain and Greece, the president's office said.

The award committee shortlisted three candidates. Apart from Davidović, Fani Hatjina from Greece, an internationally renowned researcher at Cardiff University in the UK and long-time director of the Animal Institute of Greece, and Pau Enric Serra Marin, a young Spanish researcher and author of the award-winning documentary on bees Bee or Not to Be, were the finalists.

Davidović is the head of the Serbhiwe project, focussing on innovative strategic research, building on energy research on wild bees and pollinators, and setting milestones for action to fight dropping pollinator numbers by 2030. Together with members of the project, he has analysed genetic diversity of wild bee colonies and developed a roadmap for the analysis of wild populations that live in the wild without human intervention.

The minister said this was a very important research, as it showed how important genetic diversity was in wild pollinators and honey bees. "Their research has shown that wild bees are more genetically diverse and more heterogeneous than native honey bees," Šinko stressed. She said this project would be the basis for Serbia's national strategy on habitat conservation and restoring wild pollinators in the wild.

Davidović said he was glad that the committee recognised their research as a study that has potential. "I hope that this award will make the research more visible to researchers around the world and change the way we look at wild honey bees and the management of bees and other pollinators," he said.

The Golden Bee is the highest national award for the promotion, conservation and research of bees and other pollinators. It was introduced by a special law adopted in March 2021. The first two awards went to Argentina's Lucas Alejandro Garibaldi and the head of the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association, Boštjan Noč.