Buzzing News: Celebrating World Bee Day and the Vital Role of Pollinators in Securing Our Food Supply

"Wild Bee Species in Ireland at Risk of Extinction, Bumblebee Populations Showing Alarming Decline, Says DAFM as World Bee Day 2023 Emphasizes Need for Pollinator-Friendly Farming Practices"

One-third of wild bee species in Ireland are facing the threat of extinction, while bumblebee populations have shown a decline of 4.1% every year since 2012, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM). The occasion of World Bee Day 2023, themed “Bee engaged in pollinator-friendly agricultural production,” highlights the significance of safeguarding bees and other pollinators, which are fundamental for the health of ecosystems and food security. Changes in land use and agricultural practices have drastically reduced their food resources and access to nesting sites, which has resulted in the endangerment of bee and pollinator populations, said the DAFM.

To mark World Bee Day, Minister of State at the DAFM with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, visited the organic suckler farm of Ken Gill in Clonbullogue, Co. Offaly. Ken is a full-time organic farmer who operates a suckler-to-beef system on his 95-hectare farm and is participating in the Pilot Pollinator Monitoring Scheme, with five visits scheduled on his farm over the summer. The scheme’s objective is to detect the status and trends of wild pollinators, with monitoring taking place at 36 sites, including farmland. The project’s outcomes will help inform policy and future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes and measures.

Ken’s organic farm provides a crucial habitat for pollinators, including flowering hedgerows, large mature trees, semi-natural woodland, and plenty of flowering species in the sward. “We have plenty of wildlife habitat here on the farm and are happy to contribute to finding out more about bee and other pollinator numbers,” said Ken, who is taking part in the pollinator monitoring survey. Minister Hackett said about the project, “It is great to see the Pilot National Pollinator Monitoring Scheme now in its second year of surveys and hear about the popularity of the project with farmers. Monitoring of bee species and other pollinators is central to tackling declines and ensuring successful measures for their protection are in place. Ireland is leading the way in the EU by having a pollinator monitoring scheme in place.”

The visit to Ken’s pollinator-friendly farm, which is part of the scheme, provided insight into what pollinator monitoring involves on the ground and the different methods used, Minister Hackett said. “The pilot study will be hugely important in providing a baseline from which we can work to achieve policy targets for reducing the declines of bees and other pollinators,” Minister Hackett said. The project results will contribute to evidence-based agricultural actions and measures to tackle the threats to bees and other pollinators.

World Bee Day, designated by the United Nations (UN) on May 20, aims to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face, and their contribution to sustainable development. Pollination is essential for maintaining plant biodiversity and the survival of ecosystems, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO). About 75% of the world’s crops, which produce fruits and other seeds for human consumption, depend, at least in part, on pollinators, including bees, the FAO said.

The FAO suggests that crop rotation and diversity, reduced use of pesticides, and restoring and protecting the habitat of pollinators, as well as the adoption of precision agriculture tools and innovation, can protect bees. Using technology and data to optimise fertiliser and irrigation practices can reduce excessive nutrients and chemicals in water, which harm pollinators and their habitats, the FAO said. “Protecting bees and other pollinators is essential to guarantee agricultural production, food security, ecosystems restoration and at large plant health,” FAO director-general Qu Dongyu said.

Categories: Agriculture