Why the bee population has been hit by 'serious losses' since January

Bee populations are suffering for a variety of reasons
Bee populations are suffering for a variety of reasons
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

Excessive use of insecticides and proposed changes to the laws regarding hedge cutting will cause further depletion of our declining bee population, bee expert Philip McCabe has warned.

Young and older bees have perished in large numbers over the extended winter.

"In the early part of the year our Irish bees were busy collecting pollen as the queen was laying eggs.

"As the brood nest started expanding we got those bad snow storms and sadly the older bees perished," said Mr McCabe, a former head of the Irish Beekeepers Society and current president of Apimondia, the world beekeeping federation.

"The young bees also died off due to lack of warmth inside. As a result there has been a serious loss to our bee population," Mr McCabe said.

For the past 10 years many Irish fruit growers have been importing bumble bees from the UK and these are used mostly in poly-tunnels during the winter months. This is overseen by James Kearns, who is chairman of the IFA's soft fruit growers' committee.

"While the honey bee will pollinate during the warmer weather, for indoor growing the bumble bees are essential. We would often bring in two or three hives of Irish bees a week," said Mr Kearns.

Mr McCabe maintains that many countries are not taking sufficient action to address the problem of the loss of bees.

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Ireland, he says, also needs to take action before it is too late.

"Bringing in bees from overseas is not ideal as we never know what diseases they carry. Furthermore the use of chemicals and the cutting of hedgerows here are wiping out vegetation which is crucial for the survival of bees," he said.

"On top of that we have weather extremes which we have seen in the likes of California and Russia. This is a now global problem."

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