The Buzz on Bees in Ireland
Here's an update on how the wild bees of Ireland and Northern Ireland are doing these days... unfortunately, it's a pretty disturbing scenario but there is some good news.
Protecting Irish Bees – A County Cork Town Leads the Charge
The numbers are looking dire for Irish wild bees. One-third of them are facing extinction, due to dwindling nectar and pollen producing flower food and a shortage of safe nesting areas.
Midleton is a small town in County Cork, with a big mission. It has decided to Save The Bees and has taken a stand in the fight against bee extinction. There are already visible changes in the area. Transformation is underway, thanks to their unique “pollinator plan.”
The Midleton Pollinator Plan was recently approved and will expand on the work that has been done already in 2019 to save their Irish bee species based on recommendations by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to support biodiversity in east Cork, in such places as road verges, ornamental planting beds, open spaces and public parks.
This is a 3:28-minute video specific to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan:
Pesticide spraying was drastically reduced, pollinator-friendly perennials were planted in flower beds and road verges sprouted into glorious bee-friendly flowering meadows. A 5-acre section of Midleton Lodge Park was left unmown for the month of September, so the seed bank of wildflowers could flourish. Such native wildflowers as Knapweed, Yellow Rattle, Self Heal, Birdsfoot Trefoil and the highly rare Bee Orchid were allowed to grow, making for happy bees.
Ireland’s sweet little bees are facing many dangers. Of 21 different species of bee, one-third of them are critically endangered. Experts warn that if they are lost, a major crisis for horticulture and wildlife will be triggered, but it won’t stop there. Bees pollinate our fruits, flowering plants and many vegetables. No bees… no birds. And humanity will suffer the loss of food types and rising food price.
Dr. Una Fitzpatrick runs the bumblebee monitoring scheme for the National Biodiversity Data Centre. She says hunger is killing Irish bumblebees. They are literally starving to death. The way landscape is now being managed means there aren’t enough nectar-producing flowers to feed the bees when they emerge from winter isolation in February and March.
How can this be, in a country as fertile as Ireland, where wild bumblebees have thrived for hundreds of years? This is indeed very sad news, but luckily there are people all around the country that are helping to Save The Bees now. Residents of Midleton, County Cork, are to be admired for taking action and hopefully people in other parts of the country will incorporate a Pollinator Plan in their communities.
Read more about the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, and if you live in Ireland, we encourage you to suggest to your local government or beekeeping association that a Pollinator Plan be implemented in your area. Help Save The Bees...
Here's a 4:26-minute video with insight into People for Bees - Irish Wildlife Trust:
Northern Ireland’s Bees Under Threat of Extinction
According to a new report from Buglife, 21 species of bees could go extinct in Northern Ireland if action isn’t taken. Many Northern Irish bee species are in decline due to disease, habitat loss, pollution and climate change.
Bees are key pollinators of crops and wildflowers. Their loss would have a devastating impact on food security and the health of the land. Wild bees have the most severe declines of any UK pollinators.
The Northern Ireland Threatened Bee Report examined historical and modern data, targeting 21 bee species considered to be at greatest risk, that are classified as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable in the Regional Red List of Irish Bees.
The report revealed all 21 species to be a conservation concern in the Island of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Serious losses were evident across the region. Urgent action must be taken.
The Barbut’s cuckoo-bee species is endangered, declining by 85% since 1980. This devastating drop is thought to be due to loss of its nesting and foraging habitats.
The loss of wild-flower rich habitats is likely behind many of the recorded declines. An estimated 85% of wildflower and flowering crop species depend on insect pollinators like bees to reproduce, and bees depend on these flowers to survive. Bees gather pollen from specific wildflowers, so they suffer heavily when meadows are cleared.
Irish bees have other hazards to deal with, like pesticides, neonicotinoid insecticides, environmental pollution, climate fluctuations, pathogens, and parasites.
The report not only documents population trends and threats, it recommends a recovery action plan for each species, including the restoring of habitats and connecting those that remain.
Anna Hart, conservation officer at Buglife, says the Northern Ireland Threatened Bee Report highlights extremely worrisome trends for wild bees. Urgent action must be taken to avoid the extinction of some of these species over the next 10 years.
She assures that there is a solution to the pollinator crisis. Restoring networks of wildflower-rich habitats across the country and making space for wildlife can reverse the declines and promote healthy pollinator populations for future generations. The report also highlights the need for better recording and monitoring of indispensable pollinators.
This short 1:16-minute video shows some fantastic progress has been made in a few short years:
If you live in Northern Ireland, or anywhere in the UK, and would like to help Save The Bees, go to the Great British Bee Count to participate in their next Great British Bee Count!
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