Immersive read: Why we all need to care about saving Ireland’s starving bees

We need to take action to save Ireland’s starving bees

Immersive read: Why we all need to care about saving Ireland’s starving bees

[section][options][type]ONE_COLUMN[/type][parallax]beesarticle_headerbg.jpg[/parallax][customcssclass]header[/customcssclass][/options][content][column1][title]We may like neat and tidy landscapes,
but the bees are starving[/title][/column1][/content][/section]

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Thanks to an inspirational conservation plan, Irish communities, businesses and individuals are taking action to save Ireland’s threatened bees

[section][options][type]TWO_COLUMN[/type][fullheight]true[/fullheight][/options][content][column1][sticky][timgfull]beesaritcle_bee1.jpg[/timgfull][/sticky][/column1][column2][subhead]We are told we are currently witnessing the ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ – a loss of wild animals on a scale comparable to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Since 1970, we’ve lost 52% of the world’s birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians.[/subhead]News headlines proclaim an ‘Insect Armageddon’, with scientists around the globe recording a dramatic collapse of 40% in insect numbers.But what does this mean to us in Ireland? Do insects really matter?And insects are annoying, right?Is anyone really going to miss midges or mosquitoes, ants or flies? Perhaps not, but there is one family of insects that seems to contradict this general feeling of apathy towards declining bugs - the bees.Instinctively we seem to know we should appreciate bees, and that we should be concerned by their disappearance. The insect declines that are being seen globally are also being seen in Ireland, but now an exciting shared plan of action – the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan - has seen councils, community groups, businesses, schools, farmers and park managers commit to taking actions to help pollinating insects.[timgfull]beesaritcle_bee2.jpg[/timgfull]Bees have been around for 70 million years. They are sometimes called ‘Hippy Wasps’ because they evolved from insect-eating wasps to become flower-obsessed vegetarian pollen-gatherers.In doing so, the bees and the flowers evolved in such a way that they need each other, and bees are our most important ‘pollinators’ – transferring pollen from one flower to another, thereby kickstarting reproduction in crops, fruits and vegetables we humans rely on for a balanced diet.[style=color: #5a5a5a; font-size: 17px] Early Bumblebee, Bombus pratorum. Copyright Steven Falk[/style][/column2][/content][/section]

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WHY ARE BEES IMPORTANT?

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THE PRICE OF POLLINATION

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BEES’ IMPACTS ON OTHER WILDLIFE & OUR LANDSCAPE

[section][options][type]TWO_COLUMN[/type][align]center[/align][/options][content][column1][timgfull100=The Great Yellow Bumblebee, Bombus distinguendus, Ireland’s most threatened bumblebee, once found across the country, is now restricted to a handful of isolated populations on the Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo. Copyright Steven Falk]beesaritcle_bee3.jpg[/timgfull100][/column1][column2][timgfull100=Heath Bumblebee on Dandelion. Copyright Anneke Vrieling]beesaritcle_bee4.jpg[/timgfull100][/column2][/content][/section]

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BEES, TOURISM & OUR EXPORT MARKET

ARE IRELAND’S BEES REALLY DISAPPEARING?

[section][options][type]THREE_COLUMN[/type][/options][content][column1][timgfull100]beesarticle_plan.jpg[/timgfull100][/column1][column2]FitzPatrick and Stout’s biggest win was to decide to draw up very clear accessible guidelines on how everyone could help, providing evidence-based actions written specifically for each sector. There is no project funding for the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, but with the voluntary help and support of the National Biodiversity Data Centre, and lots of generous scientists, agriculture experts, horticulturalists and advisors, the team have been able to publish evidence-based guidelines that can be used by gardeners, community groups, businesses, farmers, councils and schools.By making these resources freely available and simply offering the tools with which people can help, they have facilitated one of the most successful conservation initiatives this island has seen.[/column2][column3][/column3][/content][/section]

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[section][options][type]ONE_COLUMN[/type][/options][content][column1]The one action that would have the greatest impact for pollinators and other biodiversity on farmland is to retain native hedgerows and manage hedgerows so that they flower in spring to provide food for pollinators. This means not cutting or flailing annually into a neat box shape, but instead cutting on a 3-yearly cycle and allowing them to grow in an A-shape. Good hedgerows also provide shelter for nesting and overwintering, and act as corridors that help pollinators and other wildlife move through the landscape. Hedgerows are a lifeline for nature on farms. Those that flower in spring will also fruit in autumn, providing food for birds and mammals.[/column1][/content][/section]

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IN YOUR GARDEN

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A POSITIVE & OPTIMISTIC PLAN

[section][options][type]FOOTER[/type][/options][content][column1][timgfull]beesarticle_footer.png[/timgfull][/column1][column2]This immersive read was created as part of the Irish Examiner's Sustainability Month initiative and in conjunction with http://www.biodiversityireland.ie. Join the discussion at #IEsustainability.Juanita Browne is a project manager with Bio Diversity Ireland's All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.This initiative was supported by Dept of Agri, Food & Marine, Janssen, Fruithill Farm, Supervalu and FolensBACK TO SUSTAINABLE LIVING 2019[/column2][/content][/section]

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