Cattle stampedes could become a regular occurrence in the Burren, with valuable livestock plunging to their deaths over dangerous cliffs.
That was the opinion of a number of councillors at the January meeting of Clare County Council — at which plans to support the construction of a bee apiary, or sanctuary, in the Burren were discussed.
A motion to support plans by NUI Galway and the Native Irish Honey Bee Society to create an apiary in the Burren were tabled by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG).
The proposal met considerable opposition with suggestions that swarms of bees would cause cattle stampedes, leading to massive damage to local cattle and the death of livestock.
“I have 50 years of experience in farming in the Burren and if this goes ahead I have no doubt that it will create swarms of bees which will interfere with farmers and cattle,” said Cllr Michael Kelly (FF).
“If the Burren flora is to flourish, it needs to be grazed during the summer. If you put bees into the Burren you won’t be able to graze cattle there safely.
“Farmers are well aware that swarms of bees can cause a stampedes of cattle. I wish the beekeepers every success, but if Cllr Flynn can suggest a site for this in Ennis, I would be very happy to supported it.
“If you get an expert [from NUI Galway] to speak here, of course they will be in favour of it, because they don’t have land in the Burren and they won’t have cattle with broken legs and worse following stampedes in the Burren.”
Mayor Joe Arkins (FG) asked both sides to gather expert opinion to address the next council meeting.
“The experts at NUI Galway and GMIT have a number of sites already in the Burren. There is agreement that the Burren is the perfect spot for something like this,” said Mr Flynn.
“I would not consider that there would be any significant danger to livestock through this project. Beekeeping is not an illegal activity — you can do it anywhere. This is not something new.”
The Burren has been identified as the most important site for bee conservation in Ireland and Britain with populations of a number of endangered species such as the great yellow bumblebee, the shrill carder bee, and the red-shanked carder bee all present in the national park.
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