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World Bee Day – Today Sunday 20th May 2018

Today, Sunday 20th May, marks the first ever global “World Bee Day”, and Bee experts are expected to highlight the need for an EU ban on certain insecticides, same which are knowingly, together with other avoidable factors, linked to a drastic decline in our Bee populations.

Why is our Honey Bee so important?

Honey bees collect pollen and nectar from a variety of wild and garden flowering plants and trees. These plants and trees, include Milkweed, Dandelion, Clover, Goldenrod, Sunflowers, Roses, Catmint, etc. together with Buddleja, and a variety of garden fruit trees.

Only workers in the colony forage for food, and while consuming as much nectar from each flower as they can, they then return to the hive and pass collected nectar to others. The worker holds this nectar on its tongue until the liquid evaporates, thus creating honey. The honey is then stored within the colony for winter consumption.

Pollen remains one of the purest and richest natural foods, containing all of the nutritional requirements for a Honey Bee, i.e. sugar, carbohydrates, protein, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
These same Bees become the pollinators vital to our own food chain.  Imagine that at least one third () of the food we eat today would not remain available, were it not for the existence of these, our busy Bees.

Today these flying insects, who are closely related to wasps and ants are in serious danger of disappearing completely from our environment. Farming practices continue to disturb their natural habitats, and over of our Irish Bee species are being threatened with extinction, with the Bumblebee population also continuing to decline each year.

This drop in population is due mainly to three factors; the unnecessary removal of ditches and hedgerows; the use of pesticides (Used In the killing of insects, small animals, unwanted plants, fungi, bacteria and viruses), and insecticides (latter includes snail bait, ant killer and wasp killer), and lastly through climate change, also attributed to mankind. Bees require food all year round, and this means we are required to allow a diversity of flowering plants to grow on our landscape.

Our farming community can help Bees and their own crops by intervention through good husbandry, by simply allowing space for a diversity of wild flowers to grow and more importantly to flower. This can happen when:-

  • Field margins can be fenced off from livestock, then allowed to either be cut or grazed after flowering.
  • Do not use fertilisers or sprays on non-farmed areas around the farmyard, e.g. in field corners, along farm roadways.  Again here, do not consider cutting until after the period of flowering.
  • If you are spraying Pesticides or Insecticides, consider spraying in the early morning or late evening, when our Honey and Bumble Bee populations are less active. Such spraying can kill Bees quickly or slowly through carrying contaminated pollen back to their particular colony, (Latter which could hold 45,000 to 75,000 individual bees), where it will becomes entered into the food chain to slowly kill the assembled insects.
  • Plant Whitethorn and Blackthorn hedging, whose early blooms are valuable to Bees, and stop removing natural hedgerows.
  • Our Government, our Local Authorities (Ministers, TD’s, Councillors take note), and we as home owners, can also assist by planting Bee-friendly bulbs and plants, in our gardens, including Snowdrops, Crocuses (or Croci), Wallflowers and Lavender etc. etc..

Our present attitude to our environment must needs be changed and our new growing generations of humans, through our schools, must be educated on the value of Bees and the unnecessary threat currently to their very existence.

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