Happy Friday, dear bee lovers!

This Friday we’re taking a detour, all the way to Ireland to meet a honeybee of a different kind... a donkey mare named Honeybee and her foal.

What do bees and donkeys have in common, you might ask?

Apart from the fact that the donkey’s name is Honeybee, Irish donkeys endure a survival struggle similar to that which so many bees experience. Like the honeybees that work themselves to death pollinating almond trees, donkeys, also known as beasts of burden, provide hard labor in agricultural settings and then as they age, grow ill or exhausted, many farmers sadly abandon them in the fields, leaving them to fend for themselves. 

There is a magical place in Mallow, Co. Cork called The Donkey Sanctuary. The fine people there collect neglected and abused donkeys from all over Ireland, rehabilitate them as well as they can, and keep them for life or find them homes whenever possible with people who will love them.

When Honeybee the donkey was rescued on April 7, 2020, the chief veterinarian at the sanctuary, Laurence O’Sullivan, confirmed upon her arrival that she was with foal and that it wouldn’t be long before the birth.

Honeybee gave birth to the foal on April 13, 2020, at Hannigan's Farm in Liscarroll, Cork, as was discovered by Head of Farms, Declan Sexton, when he checked on her only to find her newborn peeping out from behind her, just a few hours old. Once the foal was examined and said to be in good health, next came the naming process.

Here are Honeybee in her honey-yellow collar and her shy foal Lockie in a 0:58-second video:

It was decided that due to the current situation, they would try to give the foal a COVID-19-related name but nothing suitable for the baby donkey came to mind at first. Eventually they settled on Lockie, referring to the lockdown status the country has been in due to the virus. According to Mr. Sexton, Lockie the Lockdown Foal is thriving and a bit shy. He stays close to his mother, is energetic, and loves running around.

Honeybee is a fine mom, as it turns out, and very protective of her foal. She shields him as necessary. The staff at the sanctuary enjoy watching the mare and her foal bond more every day.

The Donkey Sanctuary has a no-breeding policy. But if foals are born into their care in a situation like this, they are guaranteed a home for life at the sanctuary or at one of the Guardian Homes.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak the donkey sanctuary at Liscarroll Farm is currently closed to the public and office staff. Those who care directly for the donkeys are still working and give the highest level of care to the charity’s donkeys and mules.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a charity that operates programs worldwide for animals that work in agriculture, transportation and industry. It is a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care. Bees are considered “agricultural animals” in many countries although it does not seem that the sanctuary has any bee programs at this time.

Whether you live in Ireland or are a tourist seeking to experience the real Ireland, try to visit The Donkey Sanctuary to meet the donkeys. It is a heart-warming experience. To see photos of Honeybee and Lockie click here. You can make a direct donation to the sanctuary at the link on the right if you are so inclined.

That’s our Friday story about a different kind of honeybee, and a fine new donkey whose name will always remind people of lockdown days long after they are over.

Happy weekend and BEE safe!