Supply of Irish honey at risk due to mild winter

MIlder than usual temperatures put a damper on bee mating and honey making

Irish honeybees: mild temperatures this past winter kept them in their hives for longer than usual. Photograph: Davidenko Andrey/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Irish honeybees: mild temperatures this past winter kept them in their hives for longer than usual. Photograph: Davidenko Andrey/Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations is appealing for donations to help save the country’s bee population.

Last year’s mild winter hampered Ireland’s honey production because bees could not mate at the right time.

The group said the mild winter of 201-15 meant bees were out foraging for pollen on Christmas day.

Mild temperature led to bees staying in hives for longer than usual. This creates a breeding ground for varroa, a mite that transmits viruses among the honeybee population.

The federation’s Eleanor Attridge pegged the pollination value to the Irish economy at several million euro, “but is ignored or taken for granted”.

The Cork Institute of Technology has agreed to set up a research project to sample the Irish bee stocks and identify the different sex alleles so that, in the future Irish beekeepers can select sex alleles to improve the genetic viability of their honeybee stocks.

The project’s aim is to eventually have a nationwide data base covering all of Ireland. Then, if beekeepers needs to introduce new genetics into their stocks they can select from the database to improve the overall bee-health.

The project, which covers the island of Ireland, hopes to sample bees from all 32 counties, to see what genetic resources are available.