bee hive
Image by Josch13 from Pixabay

As a part of the celebrations of World Bee Day today 20 May 2019, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D., today announced a “Host a hive, help the honey bee” initiative. This initiative aims to encourage forest owners to introduce beehives to their native woodlands and is in partnership with Woodlands of Ireland and the national beekeeping associations. It is also supported by the Native Irish Honeybee Society.

The Minister also confirmed the arrival of honey bees to Agriculture House with hives installed on Agriculture House’s city centre Headquarters on Kildare Street. This joins DAFM’s Backweston campus as the latest DAFM location to install hives.

Minister Doyle stated, “My Department is a huge supporter of pollinator-friendly initiatives and we continue to invest heavily in the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. Beekeepers need space for hives in productive foraging areas and what better place to establish a hive than a native woodland. I have no doubt that Irish forest owners will be buzzing at the opportunity to help save Ireland’s honey bees. This will also feed into the national effort to protect and preserve bees under the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.”

Native woodlands created and restored under the Department’s National Forestry Programme are not intensively managed thereby making them the ideal locations for hives. The Department is writing to all owners of a woodland created or restored under the Native Woodland Scheme to invite them to contact a beekeeping association if they are interested in hosting a hive or a number of hives.

The scheme involves no effort, or cost, for the landowner as the beekeepers carry their own insurance, supply the hives and maintain them. Participation benefits the land-owner, by increased pollination in the woodland, and the potential to further develop local honey-producing enterprises similar to Wicklow’s ‘Nectar Way’ agri-food tourism initiative.

These initiatives are the latest in a series of  DAFM supports to aid and support bees and beekeepers. Under DAFM’s locally-led schemes, we are now investing €1.2m in a four-year pollinator project led by the National Biodiversity Centre. This will work directly with farmers to help them make their farms more pollinator friendly.

This comes on top of other initiatives including annual grants to the Irish National Beekeepers Federations to help their associated members pursue the craft of beekeeping, to support the purchase of bees and to inform the general public about the environmental role that bees play in maintaining Irish biodiversity and crop production. DAFM also operates the National Apiculture Programme which includes the provision of a free disease diagnostic service for Irish beekeepers and funds specific research projects on bees.

The Minister added that “ We can all play our part in making Ireland a place where bees can survive and thrive and my Department is fully committed to helping those efforts in any way we can and this ‘Host a Hive’ project is another excellent way to do so”.