Honey, we need your help to save the bees
Irish businesses asked to support a campaign to halt the decline in the bee population
Dr Jane Stout of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan steering group and Jim O’Toole, Bord Bia’s director of sustainable development, with an insect hotel that provides shelter for insects. Photograph: Gary O’Neill
Busy bees at work
One third of Ireland’s 98 bee species is threatened by extinction, posing a threat to the livelihood of farmers. To address this, Bord Bia and the National Biodiversity Data Centre have launched a save the bees campaign, calling on Irish businesses to take practical steps to halt the decline.
Companies are being asked to sign up to an action plan and implement the suggestions made in the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. Dr Jane Stout, deputy chairwoman of the steering group which worked on the plan said, “ Without pollinators it would be impossible for farmers or gardeners to affordably produce many of the fruits and vegetables we need for a healthy diet. Pollinators are also necessary for a healthy environment and landscape. Without them, the 78 per cent of wild plants in Ireland that require insect pollination would disappear.
The plan, available to view here also has advice for local communities, gardens and schools on how to become involved. “The overall strategy, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, makes Ireland one of the first countries in Europe with an approach to address this problem,” Dr Stout said.
The guidelines for businesses include 18 practical actions that can be taken in both indoor and outdoor spaces, including installing a bee or insect hotel, reducing the use of pesticides, raising awareness, and protecting areas that are providing food and shelter for pollinators.
Kieran Harnett of the Dublin Honey Project, which aims to produce raw honey from each of the city’s postcodes, said, “Any help we can get to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators is always welcome.”
Harnett suggests planting roadsides, roundabouts and other green spaces with pollinator-friendly wild flowers, and banning the use of weed killers that are damaging to insect life.
“Tolka park in Drumcondra did this with one of their fields and it was a huge hit with the public and wildlife. Not only was it beautiful, there was an almost immediate increase in the bird and insect population. It’s amazing how little it takes for nature to get a foot hold and regenerate the existing plants,” he said.
According to Harnett, several Dublin businesses are already working with beekeepers. “Airfield in Dundrum have hives on site run by bee keeper Pat Kavanagh and use the honey in the restaurant and gift shop. AIB has installed hives on the roof of their bank centre in Dublin with the Federation of Irish Bee Keeping Associations.”
Harnett, who is a photographer by profession, runs the Dublin Honey Project with architect Gearóid Carvill. “I have placed hives in the garden of the Websummit’s Dartry offices. And we have installed a remote camera at the hive entrance to monitor the bees online. I’d love to talk to some of the big tech companies near Grand Canal Basin or Ringsend about hosting some hives too.”
Kevin Arundel of The Chop House gastro pub in Dublin is renovating a space on top of the premises to relocate the hives he currently has in a temporary location in the south city. Once the hives are established on the roof of the Shelbourne Road pub, he expects he will be harvesting 100-150lbs of honey.