Paraic Horkan is the resident gardening guru on the TV3’s Ireland:AM show. This morning he met with bee keeping experts Gerry Ryan and Eamon Mc Gee to find out about what we can do at this time of year to help encourage bees back into Irish gardens.
Although it is autumn the bees are still in the garden. Bees are important garden visitors as they pollinate colourful garden plants. Without them there would be no fruit, flowers or vegetable plants. But due to modern farming methods bee numbers are currently in decline. Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are very harmful to bee populations.
There are a few simple steps that we can do to help re-establish the bee population in Ireland, such as using bee friendly gardening products. Paraic also recommends planting bee friendly plants, seeds and flowers which produce pollen to help support the bees in your area.
Cyclamen, anemone cinderella, lavender and other plants which flower over the winter and into the spring period are ideal for helping bees over the difficult winter period.
Eamon explains that at this time of year there are about 13,000 bees in his bee hive/box. He uses smoke to keep them quiet as they think that this is a forest fire and are easier to manage. The honey is stored in frames in the hive and 1 of his boxes can contain 35-40lbs of honey. Bees are different to wasps; they are not aggressive but have protective traits.
This means they will protect their hive but are not aggressive when foraging for pollen in your garden. The queen bee in a hive is a little bigger than the worker bees and spends most of her life laying eggs. This busy lady can lay four times her body weight a day.
Bee keeping can contribute to the Irish economy as there are many great Irish products created using bee honey and wax. Bee’s wax can be used to make candles and other products. The honey comb can also be eaten; this would have been popular in homes many years ago.