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Ireland's bees are in danger, but here's the plan that could save them

Many of the crops grown here depend on bees to pollinate them.

bee1 National Biodiversity Data Centre National Biodiversity Data Centre

DOZENS OF STATE and non-governmental organisations are coming together in a bid to save Ireland’s bees.

There are 98 different species of bee in this country – the honeybee and 97 wild bee species, including 20 bumblebee species and 77 solitary bee species.

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In 2006, the International Union for Conservation of Nature published a Red List of Ireland’s Bees. It showed that one third of our 97 wild bees are threatened with extinction.

Three very rare bumblebees – the great yellow bumblebee, the Shrill carder bee and the Red shanked carder bee – are all threatened with extinction in Ireland.

In a bid to combat this, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 was published today. The initiative aims to deliver 81 actions to make Ireland more pollinator-friendly.

The plan identifies actions that can be taken on farmland, public land and private land.

These include creating pollinator highways along our transport routes, making our public parks pollinator-friendly and encouraging the public to see their gardens as potential pit-stops for bees.

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Úna FitzPatrick from the National Biodiversity Data Centre chaired the plan steering group.

“Bees are declining because we’ve drastically reduced the areas where they can nest and the amount of food our landscape provides for them,” FitzPatrick said.

Fertiliser application has resulted in increased crop yields, but strong declines in wildflowers – subjecting our bees to starvation.

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The tendency to tidy up the landscape rather than allow wildflowers grow along roadsides, fields and in parks and gardens is also playing a big part in fewer of these resources.

The annual value of pollinators for human food crops has been estimated at €153 billion worldwide, and at least €53 million in the Republic of Ireland.

Crops such as apples, oilseed rape, strawberries, raspberries, currants, tomatoes, peas and courgettes are all pollinator-dependent.

More information on the plan is available here.

Read: Bees are disappearing – and scientists are warning about worrying knock-on problems

Read: 18 hospitalised after a truck carrying thousands of bees crashes on motorway

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