Bouquet for busy bee Mary after stinging Dail attacks
ALBERT Einstein once predicted that if the honeybee disappeared, mankind would survive for only four years thereafter.
So, with half of the worldwide bee population dying annually from widespread disease and serious repercussions for the €366bn global food crop industry, a small Irish start-up will contribute to the protection of the species by producing safe food for bees.
Tanaiste Mary Coughlan launched Beemune's products at Dublin City Council's fruit and vegetable market on St Mary's Lane yesterday where she was also met by Derek Leonard, of Leonard Potato Merchants Ltd, who presented her with a welcome bouquet.
Beemune produces food additives for the bee community that improves their immune systems and nutrition.
The company will sell its products into the €2.6bn global commercial honeybee sector, targeting key markets such as the US and Australia.
During the past decade, commercially managed honeybees, vital for the production of up to 40pc of all fruit and vegetables, have suffered from increased ill-health due to factors including monoculture, parasites, new pesticides and gene pool reductions.
The problem was exacerbated three years ago by a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), whereby two-thirds of the commercial bee population were wiped out during the winter hibernation season.
Beemune's chief scientific officer Kevin Kavanagh said yesterday that while the causes of CCD were not known, research showed the company's products rapidly improved the health and vitality of bee colonies.
The products were comparable with tonics used to treat run-down humans and could be used in either powder or liquid form, Mr Kavanagh said.
They work by stimulating the bee's immune systems and helping them clear out any diseases.
The company, which is planning to have seven employees by the end of the year and 30 within three years, will bring its products to market in the next 18 months and will also have a US operation.
The Tanaiste said the company was a very good example of how bodies such as Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland could come together to promote good indigenous ideas in order to deal with global issues.