Farmers urged to save wild bees from dying out
The bee population of Ireland is under threat because of the lack of wild flowers on farms, experts are warning.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle will this week, at the National Ploughing Championships, launch guidelines for farmers to help with pollination of crops.
"People often think the honeybee is solely responsible for all pollination, but in actual fact most is carried out by wild bees," said Dr Úna FitzPatrick from the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
Unfortunately, Irish pollinators have been declining, with one third of our 97 wild bee species threatened with extinction.
Ireland has one honeybee, 20 bumblebee species and 77 solitary bees.
One of the main reasons for bee declines is hunger - there are simply not enough wild flowers in our landscapes today to provide enough food for bees.
Bees rely entirely on nectar and pollen for food, which makes them our most important insect pollinators.
A lack of safe nest sites, pesticides, and climate change also negatively impact bee survival.
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan has provided five guidelines for farmers including maintaining native flowering hedgerows, allowing wild flowers to grow on the farm and providing nesting places for wild bees.
The two other guidelines are related to the sustainable use of pesticide, and fertilizer and the farm.
Michael Maloney, director of Origin Green and Sustainable Quality Assurance, welcomed the new guidelines.
He said Ireland's green image was hugely important to farmers, manufacturers and our key customers both at home and abroad.
"We all need to play a part and these guidelines offer easy, zero-cost actions that will make a real difference for bees at farm level.
"I would encourage every farmer to take a look at the farmland guidelines, or download a copy from the pollinators.ie website.
"I think they will be surprised at how easy it is to take part in this hugely positive project," he said.
The plan is about protecting the livelihood of farmers and growers who rely on their "free pollinator service," the department said.
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