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Bees

Bees:

Did you know one third of Ireland’s bee species are threatened with extinction?

Why should we care?

Bees are fundamental to human life. They are key pollinators in our world. At least 80% of the world’s crops require pollination to set seed. If we allow a key pollinator such as the bee to become extinct, there will be food shortages across the world on an unimaginable scale.


Why are so many bee species threatened with extinction?

The growth of urban areas has led to a reduction of green, pollinator-friendly spaces. Bees feed on nectar and pollen from plants, trees and flowers. Without a food source, bees simply cannot survive. On top of this, as many farms try to maximise the area for their crops, they no longer have hedgerows surrounding their fields. Hedgerows are rich in the nutrients on which bees flourish. 

Insecticides, that have been killing bees, are also a major problem. Insecticides are used to protect crops from insects and yet their excessive use has had a hugely detrimental impact on the bee populations in Ireland, which ironically are key to many crops’ success.

 

What about all the honey bee hives across Ireland?

Ireland has 98 different bee species and the honey bee is just one of these. While there has been a growing increase in beehives across the island of Ireland and worldwide, they cannot compensate for the loss of wild pollinators.

What can we do?

Everyone can make a difference in the fight to protect all of the bee species in Ireland. We need more pollinator-friendly spaces and pollinator-friendly plants. We must reduce our use of pesticides in gardens, farms and public spaces. Cutting the grass less frequently allows wild flowers to grow. Even in crowded urban spaces we can help by hanging pollinator-friendly plants. 

This is where native trees come in – planting more trees can hugely benefit bees. One mature sycamore tree in flower can produce as much nectar as an acre of wild flowers. Planting a variety of plants and trees will mean that they will flower at different times of the year so that there is a year-long source of food for pollinators. Produce a food source and more bees will come.

 

Which bee species are at risk of extinction?

Tawny Mining Bee

Trimmer’s Mining Bee

Field Cuckoo Bee

Pollination in action. Above we have a bee (from the Tallaght Apiary), rubbing yellow pollen onto her back legs from a gorse flower on campus. Pollen is the main protein source for developing bee larvae. The Queen of this hive, ‘Annie May’ is busy laying about 1000 eggs per day at the moment. A count yesterday showed approximately 15,000 larvae in her hive, all waiting to emerge over the next three weeks, in time for the main spring nectar flow and to complete their mammoth task of pollinating our native plant species.

The nexy video is a slo-mo where you can see her pollen packets full. You can hear her wings motoring away also!