It’s a busy roundabout at the best of times, but it’s about to get a whole lot busier thanks to a new bee-friendly initiative.
Special plants and shrubs have been planted on one of Cork’s busiest roads to attract one of the world’s most important pollinator species — the bee.
The project at the Poulavone roundabout on the eastern approach to Ballincollig, understood to be the first of its kind in the county, has created an oasis for bees in the centre of the busy roundabout.
And it’s been buzzing, with up to seven different types of honey bee spotted foraging there in recent days.
The project, which uses mulch rather than sprays and pesticides to control weeds, will help create
‘pollinator corridors’ on nearby roads and it is hoped that it could eventually lead to the town becoming a pesticide-free zone.
It’s being undertaken as part of a partnership between Ballincollig Tidy Towns, Cork County Council and Griffin’s Garden Centre in Dripsey.
Garden centre owner Margaret Griffin said they had been looking to “adopt a roundabout” for some time before the opportunity to take over the Poulavone roundabout emerged.
Following talks with council officials, including Don O’Sullivan, and the Tidy Town’s committee, a bee-friendly planting scheme was agreed.
Ms Griffin and her team have spent the last few weeks digging out the old, and in some cases, diseased and storm-damaged carpet rose and rose bushes.
They have landscaped the site and planted dozens of bee-friendly plants, including lavender, geranium Rozanne, verbenas and bidens, and installed ornamental beehives. Most of the plants are blue, lavender and yellow — colours which attract pollinators.
The Tidy Towns group have also developed a butterfly-friendly space just off one of the roundabout exits.
Ms Griffin said the centre of the roundabout will be ever-changing to reflect the passing of the seasons and, as well as playing an educational role, it will also help create pollinator corridors.
“In the autumn, we will plant daffodils on the roundabout and once they’ve finished flowering, we will take the bulbs out and give them to the Tidy Town’s group, which will plant them on some of the roads nearby, creating pollinating corridors coming out from roundabout,” she said.
“Kids today are so far removed from nature that they haven’t an idea what’s happening. Hopefully this will instil interest in nature and the seasons.
“For example, in the autumn, we also plan to install insect hotels for those insects that hibernate for winter, and we’ll use those insects again next spring to eat the bugs we don’t want. And then it will be time for the bees to come back again.
“The feedback we’ve been getting so far is that this is uplifting.”
Beekeeper Noel Riordan, a member of the Cork County Beekeeper’s Club, said it’s been a very tough year for the country’s bee population and that initiatives like this are very important.
“Bees are under pressure from modern farming methods, modern sprays and pesticides, viruses and mites. Projects like this raise the importance of having bees,” he said.
Fellow beekeeper Ben Philpott, who lost several hives during the harsh winter, said: “It’s very important to plant the right flowers. They say ‘plant the flowers and the bees will follow’.”
Tom Butler, chairman of Ballincollig Tidy Towns, said they have been working hard to promote and create biodiversity awareness.
“Griffins have the same ethos and this project was a natural fit,” he said.
“We have several biodiversity areas around the town, and estates like Coolroe Meadows, have adopted a no-spray policy.
“There are over 100 estates in the town. It’s happening in small steps but we could become a pesticide-free town. I think it will happen but it will take time.”