The harsh winter and prolonged drought may have killed up to 40% of Ireland’s honeybee population.
And while there are some signs of hope — a rarely spotted leaf-eater bee was seen in Blarney Castle grounds recently — small changes in how roadside verges and ditches are managed could help the recovery.
That’s the view of two apiary experts, Noel Riordan and Ben Philpott, who said it is vital that the State and individuals do what they can to protect pollinators.
Pollination services provided by insects, mainly bees, have been valued at €153bn a year, with 71 of the 100 crops providing 90% of food worldwide being pollinated by bees.
“They say that without bees, mankind would be extinct within four years,” Mr Riordan said.
As well as climate, bees are also facing challenges from mites, viruses, modern farming practices and pesticides. But they are great survivors, Mr Riordan said.
“Bees have been on this planet for about 33m years. We’ve been here about 100,000 years. Bees are very adaptable, they will survive. We’ll be long gone but they will adapt to the environment,” he said.
Mr Philpott said local authorities and Transport Infrastructure Ireland could help by cutting roadside verges and ditches rather than spraying pesticides.
“It would be much preferable if they cut the verges to maintain live flowers that bees rely on,” he said.
But he said individuals can also help by planting the right type of plants, shrubs and trees.