Biodiversity Action Plan
Our forward planning, choosing and planting of the correct pollinator plants this year is really paying dividends. A lovely selection of butterflies have been seen over the summer and bees are very plentiful.
In the last number of weeks we have been advised that about 8 swarms of bees had arrived in Ballincollig and had to be relocated. In all the years we have never heard of this number of swarms.
Well done to everyone who took the time to add to the Pollinator Corridor and/or chose the appropriate plants for their garden. It has made a huge difference.
We work closely with senior members of Ballincollig Scout Group and one of the projects one group did was to build a Bug Hotel. They built it from scratch. The Bug Hotel is designed to provide shelter for insects. and providing nesting facilities particularly during winter.We also welcome the pollinators who have lots of areas to shelter. Thankfully we are nearly at full capacity and the bugs are fascinating to watch..
A second group of scouts wanted to do something different so they got two barrels and painted them and gave us both Male and Female Floral Displays. The two barrels are positioned on either side of the Bug Hotel and the plants attract the bees to the area.
10 Ways To Help Pollinators
1. Let dandelions bloom – these provide vital food for hungry bees in spring.
2. Pollinator friendly mowing – from mid April mow every 6 weeks to allow flowers like clover to grow and provide food.
3. Pollinator friendly bulbs – plant Crocus allium or snowdrop bulbs. They provide better food than daffodils and tulips
4. Pollinator friendly plants – Begonias, petunias and busy lizzies don’t provide food for pollinators.
5. Plant native flowering trees – willow, hawthorn and blackthorn flowers provide important for pollinators
6. Don’t spray – the overuse of herbicides is making it difficult for pollinators to find enough flowers to feed them
7. Bare soil for nesting – most of our bees need bare soil to nest. Create a small south facing earth bank to provide shelter
8. Put up signage – inform people where land is being managed for pollinators. Visit the website for templates
9. Junior Pollinator Plan – download the Junior Plan from the website
10. Actions for pollinators – help us track the build up of resources in the landscape log your actions on the website
Making A Difference For Our Bees
Having celebrated World Bee Day last week, there are several things we can do on an ongoing basis to make sure we all do our bit to help save the bees. One third of Ireland’s 99 bee species are at risk of extinction. But by making some small changes to how we manage our land, we can all help to reverse these declines.
1. Look through the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to see how you can help http://www.pollinators.ie Learn the many different ways to help bees. Share the guidelines for Gardens, Schools, Local Communities, Businesses and Farmland.
2. Take some time to look around the garden and choose some areas to leave for native plants and pollinating insects. Create a strip in the garden or a wildlife lawn where wildflowers can feed the bees.
A roadside verge is often a refuge for wild plants. Maybe you could stop mowing the road verge but if used by walkers, mow just a one-metre path along the roadside.
If you have a native hedgerow, perhaps you could let it bloom (cut it no more than every 2-3 years).
3. When planting, choose bee-friendly flowers, fruits, trees and herbs. Try to include plants that will flower at different times of the year in order to provide food sources for bees from spring through to autumn.
4. Nesting sites for Solitary Bees. Take time to make some of these nesting sites for Solitary Bees. 15 of the Solitary Bees are Cavity-nesting Bees and use existing holes in wood or stone to nest. You can create nests by drilling holes in fencing, erecting bee hotels or using bee bricks.
Mining Bees account for 62 of the Solitary Bees and need bare soil to nest. Create this by removing vegetation with a spade on south/east facing banks where possible and protect these areas in the garden.
Pollinator Corridor Extension
Ballincollig’s Pollinator Corridor has been given a welcome extension courtesy of
The Woods Family on the Carrigrohane Road. The magnificent volume of
Pollinator Plants along the roadside gives a lovely show but more
importantly provides ample food for the bees.
Over the coming days and weeks you will see these signs appearing
around Ballincollig in areas where we are developing biodiversity
areas. The Ballincollig Pollinator Corridor Map will also be available
FOR THE KIDS………
10 FACTS ABOUT HONEY BEES!
Find out all about our brilliant bees!
Calling all budding – or should we say buzz-ing – young naturalists! Join National Geographic Kids as we get the lowdown on one of our planet’s most fascinating insects in our ten facts about Honey bees!
Facts about honey bees
1. Honey bees are super-important pollinators for flowers, fruits and vegetables. This means that they help other plants grow! Bees transfer pollen between the male and female parts, allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit.
2. Honey bees live in hives (or colonies). The members of the hive are divided into three types:
Queen: One queen runs the whole hive. Her job is to lay the eggs that will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behaviour of the other bees.
Workers: these are all female and their roles are to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, clean and circulate air by beating their wings. Workers are the only bees most people ever see flying around outside the hive.
Drones: These are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the new queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer. But come winter, when the hive goes into survival mode, the drones are kicked out!
3. What are these buzzing bugs most famous for? Delicious honey! But did you know they produce honey as food stores for the hive during winter? Luckily for us, these efficient little workers produce 2-3 time more honey than they need, so we get to enjoy the tasty treat, too!
4. If the queen bee dies, workers will create a new queen by selecting a young larva (the newly hatched baby insects) and feeding it a special food called “royal jelly“. This enables the larva to develop into a fertile queen.
5. Honey bees are fab flyers. They fly at a speed of around 25km per hour and beat their wings 200 times per second!
6. Each bee has 170 odorant receptors, which means they have one serious sense of smell! They use this to communicate within the hive and to recognise different types of flowers when looking for food.
7. The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks. During this time, she’ll produce around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey.
8. The queen can live up to five years. She is busiest in the summer months, when she can lay up to 2,500 eggs a day!
9. Honey bees are also brilliant boogiers! To share information about the best food sources, they perform their ‘waggle dance’. When the worker returns to the hive, it moves in a figure-of-eight and waggles its body to indicate the direction of the food source. Cool, huh?
10. Sadly, over the past 15 years, colonies of bees have been disappearing, and the reason remains unknown. Referred to as ‘colony collapse disorder’, billions of Honey bees across the world are leaving their hives, never to return. In some regions, up to 90% of bees have disappeared!
We can all do our bit to support these brilliant bugs, gang! Why not plant flowers rich in nectar, such as lavender and bluebells, which will help bees find the food they need? Also, be sure to choose local British honey, too, which will support our Honey bees and their beekeepers!
Did you know that we have a FREE downloadable Buzz about Bees primary resource, all about these awesome insects? Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike!
What did you think of our facts about Honey bees? Let us know by leaving us a comment, below!
Biodiversity Area on the Link Road
Over 5 years ago Ballincollig Tidy Towns decided to plant wildflowers in an area on the Link Road and this has had a very positive effect. The wildflower meadow continues to amaze us every year. It is presently in bloom. Taking into account the numbers of times that the grass would have been cut over the last 5 years our decision has paid dividends in reducing emissions etc.
The world’s leading scientists will warn the planet’s life-support systems are approaching a danger zone for humanity when they release the results of the most comprehensive study of life on Earth ever undertaken.
Up to 1m species are at risk of annihilation, many within decades, according to a leaked draft of the global assessment report, which has been compiled over three years by the UN’s leading research body on nature.
The 1,800-page study will show people living today, as well as wildlife and future generations, are at risk unless urgent action is taken to reverse the loss of plants, insects and other creatures on which humanity depends for food, pollination, clean water and a stable climate.
The final wording of the summary for policymakers is being finalised in Paris by a gathering of experts and government representatives before the launch on Monday, but the overall message is already clear, according to Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
“There is no question we are losing biodiversity at a truly unsustainable rate that will affect human wellbeing both for current and future generations,” he said. “We are in trouble if we don’t act, but there are a range of actions that can be taken to protect nature and meet human goals for health and development.”
The authors hope the first global assessment of biodiversity in almost 15 years will push the nature crisis into the global spotlight in the same way climate breakdown has surged up the political agenda since the 1.5C reportlast year by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Like its predecessor, the report is a compilation of reams of academic studies, in this case on subjects ranging from ocean plankton and subterranean bacteria to honey bees and Amazonian botany. Following previous findings on the decimation of wildlife, the overview of the state of the world’s nature is expected to provide evidence that the world is facing a sixth wave of extinction. Unlike the past five, this one is human-driven.
Mike Barrett, WWF’s executive director of conservation and science, said: “All of our ecosystems are in trouble. This is the most comprehensive report on the state of the environment. It irrefutably confirms that nature is in steep decline.”
Barrett said this posed an environmental emergency for humanity, which is threatened by a triple challenge of climate, nature and food production. “There is no time to despair,” he said. “We should be hopeful that we have a window of opportunity to do something about it over these two years.”
That is when China will host the UN framework convention on biodiversity gathering in Kunming, which will establish new 20-year targets to replace those agreed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010. Soon after, the UN framework convention on climate change will revise Paris agreement commitments at a meeting in either the UK, Italy, Belgium or Turkey.
Watson, a British professor who has headed both of the UN’s leading scientific panels, said the forthcoming report will delve more deeply than anything before into the causes of nature collapse, chief among which is the conversion of forests, wetlands and other wild landscapes into ploughed fields, dam reservoirs and concrete cities. Three-quarters of the world’s land surface has been severely altered, according to the leaked draft. Humanity is also decimating the living systems on which we depend by emitting carbon dioxide and spreading invasive species.
Watson said the authors have learned from attribution science, which has transformed the debate on the climate crisis by showing how much more likely hurricanes, droughts and floods have become as a result of global heating.
The goal is to persuade an audience beyond the usual green NGOs and government departments. “We need to appeal not just to environment ministers, but to those in charge of agriculture, transport and energy because they are the ones responsible for the drivers of biodiversity loss,” he said.
A focus will be to move away from protection of individual species and areas, and to look at systemic drivers of change, including consumption and trade.
The political environment is changing in some countries due to overwhelming scientific evidence and increasing public concern about the twin crises of nature and climate, which have prompted more than 1 million students to strike from school and led to street protests by Extinction Rebellion activists in more than a dozen countries.
The UK parliament declared a climate emergency this week and the government’s chief climate advisory body recommended an accelerated plan to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Until now, however, the nature crisis has been treated as far less of a priority. “Where are the headlines? Where are the emergency meetings?” asked the school strike founder, Greta Thunberg, in a recent tweet on the subject.
Extinction Rebellion activists said protests that blocked several London streets last month were as much aimed at the defence of nature as stabilising the climate. “They are two sides of the same destructive coin,” said Farhana Yamin, a coordinator of the movement who is also an environmental lawyer and formerly a lead author of the IPCC report.
“The work of IPBES is as crucial as the work done by the IPCC on the 1.5-degree report. That is why Extinction Rebellion is demanding an end [to] biodiversity loss and a net-zero phaseout by 2025. We can’t save humanity by only tackling climate change or only caring about biodiversity.”
How can Local Communities help Pollinators?
Local communities can lead the way in creating an Ireland where pollinators can thrive. To find out how to make your community pollinator friendly, download our publication: Local Communities: actions to help pollinators
Suitable for: TIDY TOWNS, Keep Northern Ireland beautiful, local wildlife groups, historic graveyard groups, college campuses, etc.
Features of our Local Community Guidelines:
- Range of 24 low/no-cost pollinator-friendly actions provided to suit all local communities
- Pollinator-friendly planting lists
- Important advice for purchasing wildflower seed mixes for pollinators
- Information about our pollinators, why they are declining and what they need to survive
Have you taken any pollinator friendly actions in your local community? If so, log them on our online mapping system, Actions for Pollinators, to help track the build-up of food and shelter in our landscape.
Instructions on how to use this mapping system: Tutorial on Actions for Pollinators: Community groups
How Councils can support the Pollinator Plan
Councils can play a leading role in making the island of Ireland a place where pollinators can survive and thrive. To help, we’ve produced these guidelines: Councils: actions to help pollinators
We understand that each Council is different, so there are a range of 30 pollinator-friendly actions to choose from. There are instructions for each action, suggestions for where it might be applied, what staff could assist, and a pollinator-friendly planting code.
Suitable for: ROI: County and City Council staff. NI: Borough, District and City Councils.
TidyTowns Pollinator Award
The Local Authority TidyTowns Pollinator Award
In 2016, when the Local Authority Heritage Officer and Biodiversity Officer Network offered to establish and fund the special Pollinator Award in the national Tidy Towns competition, the team behind the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan were delighted to support this new way to create awareness of pollinators and increase pollinator-friendly habitats right across the country.
There has been an amazing reaction to this special award and reading about all the achievements and actions taken for pollinators in towns and villages across the country is truly inspirational.
A total of 140 towns and villages have entered the Pollinator Award competition since 2016, comprising wonderful projects, each improving and creating much-needed habitats for biodiversity and pollinating insects.
Since then, the entries have improved year on year. We would like to thank you sincerely for all you are doing locally to help create a more pollinator-friendly Ireland, and wish you every success in 2019!
– the Pollinator Plan team
To learn more about some of the wonderful work being carried out by TidyTowns groups around the country, please see our newsletter from the 2018 competition: TidyTowns Local Authority Pollinator Award 2018 newsletter
To learn about entries and winners in the past three years of the award, please click on the appropriate tab to the left of this page: 2016, 2017, 2018.
Download our top 10 tips on how to improve your entry for the Pollinator award: Tips on entering Tidy Towns Pollinator Award
Local Authority Pollinator Award Prize Fund: €9000
Overall Winner €1000
Regional Winner Small Town/Village: 4 winners receive €1000 each.
Regional Winner Large Town/Urban centre: 4 winners receive €1000 each.
France Becomes The First Country To Ban All Five Pesticides Linked To Bee Deaths
In May 2018 the EU banned three of the significant pesticides implicated in the collapse of bee populations. Clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are now prohibited for use on crops.
However France has gone a step further and set the high bar in the effort to save the bees. Given the importance of pollinators to nature and the survival of the biosphere, this could not happen too soon!
Studies have reported that the neonicotinoid pesticides attack the central nervous system of insects, leading to loss of memory and homing skills, in addition to reduced fertility. Bees that cannot find their way back to the hive quickly die. However the pesticides have also been shown to affect butterflies, birds and other pollinating insects.
There is a reason why France is ahead of the field in this regard: The “bee killing” pesticides were tested first on French fields in the 1990’s – and the French farmers witnessed first-hand the catastrophic effects that occurred in 1994; describing “a carpet of dead bees”. 400,000 bee colonies died within days – yet the story was buried under a layer of corruption and distorted science.
Since that time, activists and manufacturers have battled to control the situation. We covered this story in full in a previous post: Overwhelming Evidence Linking Neonicotinoid Insecticides To Massive Die-off Of Bees And Songbirds
The new move is certain to be celebrated by ecologists and sets an example of protection of nature that the rest of the world needs to follow.