Irish bees still flying high despite threats
Published 11/05/2011 | 05:00
PREDICTIONS of the demise of the native Irish honey bee have, it seems, been greatly exaggerated.
And the academic world is abuzz with the news the Irish bee makes honey with the longest shelf-life.
Unlike his counterparts in Europe, our tiny winged 'Apis melliferea' is thriving, according to a new study carried out at the Limerick Institute of Technology.
And that really is good news because it is responsible for up to 30pc of the food we eat or export.
Irish bees are known to be under threat from a tiny mite wiping out colonies across the Continent.
The parasitic varroa destructor mite attaches itself to the body of a bee and spreads a virus that affects its immune system.
So far, however, the Irish bee has held out.
But the elimination of native hedgerows, bees' ecosystem for millennia, is causing major concern.
"Scientific evidence of such changes over short periods of time generally lead to the collapse of species," said Conan McDonnell who carried out the study.
But he found the indigenous population is still healthy and is not at the same risk of collapse as those in other parts of the world.
"They have adapted their life cycles to be super-efficient at making the most of what is available at that particular time of the year," added Mr McDonnell.
A study from the Department of the Environment found that bees were worth €85m a year to the economy because of their role in pollinating plants and crops.