‘Globally, bees are the most important pollinators because they visit flowers to collect pollen for their larvae, as well as feeding exclusively on the nectar of flowers as adults. Hence, the entire life-cycle of bees is dependent on interactions with flowering plants’, All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015 -2020.
Today Ireland’s pollinator species are in decline and this can have serious implications on food production, farming and agriculture and the environment as a whole. The Pollinator Plan explains that in Ireland, 30% of species considered threatened with extinction according to IUCN criteria. Mintel reported about the growing concern of decline in bee colonies worldwide stated that honey bee hives in the US have decreased from 5 million in 1940 to only 2.5 million in 2013.
Therefore there is a great need to ensure that our pollinator species are protected and that work is undertaken to restore populations to healthy levels across the board.
Bord Bia’s Origin Green program recognizes the importance of biodiversity and is working with Irish farms and the food and drink industry to strive for improvements in this area. Verified Members of Origin Green agree that clear objectives in their comprehensive sustainability plans under three key areas, including Raw Material Sourcing, Manufacturing Processes, and Social Sustainability. Improvements in biodiversity at industry level are targeted under manufacturing processes, where companies are required to set a minimum of two targets. These plans are independently verified by SGS, a third party agency, and monitored on an annual basis.
At Farm level, independent auditors are meeting with farmers to record the relevant data required to assess each farm’s production system across all areas of sustainability. The auditors, using smart hand-held technology, collect data ranging from; carbon footprint to waste management, traceability to biodiversity, output levels, and daily live-weight gain, to fertilizer and nitrogen use.
By working together, improvements can be made to help protect Ireland’s pollinator species. One way this can be done is to support the Irish beekeeping community. There are great examples of local neighborhood honey that can be found in Ireland and around the world.
The Dublin Honey Project works with Native Irish Black Bees and aims to produce raw honey from each of the postcodes of Dublin. Further, a field, Bee One Third, a neighborhood honey project in Australia, is utilizing unused rooftop space in the city at various hotels and business to produce suburban honey, local to each area. The difference in color, flavor, and taste from each jar is incredibly unique.
Here are some more ideas of how you can play a helping hand:
- Plant native bee-friendly shrubs and plants in your garden
- Reduce the use of harmful weed and pest-killing chemicals in your garden
- Support Irish beekeepers and look to source locally produced honey
- Could you keep bees at home? Reach out to beekeeping organizations in Ireland and to understand what is involved and how you may be able to get involved
- Read the All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 to learn more about Ireland’s pollinators and the plan’s objectives.
For more information please contact Nicola.Martin@Bordbia.ie