Town in County Cork leads the way in protecting Irish bees

A third of Irish bees currently face the threat of extinction, and a town in County Cork is leading the way in saving them.

Midleton, a small town in south-eastern County Cork, is taking a stand in the fight against bee extinction. A unique “pollinator plan” has already seen transformative changes in the area. 

Currently, one-third of Irish bees are faced with the horrifying prospect of extinction. This is due to a drastic reduction in their food (flowers) and safe nesting areas. 

However, if the pollinator plan does as it’s supposed to, we could be looking at a wonderful opportunity to save these bumbling creatures. Read on for all the info about this fantastic plan! 

Pollinator plan

Knapweed is one of the native Irish wildflowers have been allowed to grow to help the cause

Councillors have recently approved a Midleton Pollinator Plan for the County Cork town. It will build on the work that has already been done in the area regarding saving our Irish bee species. The plan is based on recommendations set out by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to support biodiversity throughout East Cork. 

In 2019, actions of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan in East Cork were successfully implemented in places such as public parks, open spaces, road verges, and ornamental planting beds. 

Midleton in County Cork leads the way in protecting Irish bees
Credit: @CorkCoCo / Facebook

This meant that the spraying of pesticides was drastically cut down, flower beds were planted with pollinator-friendly perennials, and road verges were allowed to become glorious flowering meadows. Sounds beautiful, don’t you think?  

Also, a five-acre portion of frequently mown grass in Midleton Lodge Park was left uncut throughout all of September. This allowed the existing seed bank of wildflowers to flourish. Native wildflowers such as Self Heal, Knapweed, Yellow Rattle, Birdsfoot Trefoil, and the very rare Bee Orchid were all allowed to grow, which undoubtedly made our little Irish bees very happy.

The dangers Irish bees are facing

Middleton in County Cork leads the way in protecting Irish bees

Right now in Ireland, we have 21 different species of bee, and a third of that number are critically endangered. Experts warn their loss will trigger a major crisis for wildlife and horticulture.

Since bees are our most effective pollinators, if they go, it will mean they will take many of our flowering plants, fruits, and birds away with them. 

“What’s happening with our bumblebees is a huge problem. Hunger is killing them. They are literally starving to death,” Dr Una Fitzpatrick, who runs the bumblebee monitoring scheme for the National Biodiversity Data Centre, said.

“They come out of hibernation in February and March and need the nectar from flowering plants for food but the way we manage the landscape now means there aren’t enough flowers.”

This makes sad reading; we can only hope that more counties in Ireland follow County Cork by incorporating a pollinator plan into their communities. 

Response from the community

The community response has been positive

Deputy Mayor of County Cork, Cllr. Martin Coughlan, welcomed the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan news, saying: “It is great to see East Cork continue its pioneering commitment to pollinator-friendly policies and ideas. 

“Cork County Council’s East Cork Municipal District is leading the way in biodiversity initiatives and I look forward to the innovations that they have led being replicated throughout the county. 

Pollinators play a vital role in our ecosystems and we need to ensure that we support them in every way we can.”

More info on the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan can be found here.

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