Newsletter: May 2024

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is a framework bringing together different sectors across the island of Ireland to create a landscape where pollinators can survive and thrive. Its implementation is coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

To spot this month: keep an eye out for the Red Mason Bee

This is one of our more distinctive solitary bees – look out for rounded abdomen with orange hairs. This species is commonly found in gardens and will nest in existing cavities – usually loose masonry or bee boxes. It’s reckoned that just one of these females can do the pollination work of over a hundred honeybees!

To do this month: No Mow May

Welcome to #NoMowMay! It’s time to put the lawnmower away and let native wildflowers grow.

No Mow May is an annual campaign started by Plantlife in the UK, asking everyone to put away the lawnmower during the month of May to help our native wildlife and feed our hungry pollinators.

Native Irish wildflowers like Dandelions, Clover, and Birds-foot trefoil provide the best source of pollen and nectar for our native pollinators. By mowing less, we can give them a chance to appear naturally – no seeds needed.

Protecting rare pollinators: new resource on the Forester Moth


The Forester (Adscita statices) is a beautiful green-blue, jewel-coloured moth that flies from late May until the end of July. It can be found in a range of habitats from uncultivated damp grassland to fens and the margins of coastal wetlands. The larvae feed on Common Sorrel and Sheep’s Sorrel, while the adults feed on the nectar of many species of flowering plant. It has undergone widespread decline due to habitat loss and changes in land use.

An all-island partnership was established to provide resources to help protect this moth, led by Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland, the National Biodiversity Data Centre, MothsIreland, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Resources have been produced to help land managers protect the Forester Moth. These are free for you to download and use. They include a guidance document, poster, and signage template.

Festival of Farmland Biodiversity

This month, the National Biodiversity Data Centre is hosting a month-long online Festival of Farmland Biodiversity. This year’s Festival will celebrate the native species-rich hedgerows that form networks of food and shelter across the Irish countryside.

Native hedgerows are an integral part of Ireland’s landscape. They hold immense value for farmers and biodiversity, providing food (such as blossom and berries), creating crucial ecological corridors, help with shade and shelter for livestock, field drainage and a habitat for beneficial insects. We are delighted to launch this new infographic to mark the start of the Festival and to celebrate our hedgerows.

There are loads of ways to get involved in the Festival of Farmland Biodiversity. Learn about hedgerows on a farmland hedge walk, or share your pollinator-friendly hedgerow with us on social media.

Pollinator, native plant, and action of the week

In May, native plants are blooming – hedgerows are full of blossoming Hawthorn, and at ground level, wildflowers like Bush vetch, Red clover, and Cuckooflower pop up in the grass. This is an important time of year for pollinators, as many prepare to make their nests.

Every month, we’re sharing ideas on how you can support these important insects with evidence-based actions. We’ll also be celebrating the connection between native plants and pollinators by shining a spotlight on different species. Each week on social media we will release a pollinator of the week, a native plant of the week, and an action of the week. You can also get the monthly summary on our website.

What’s really in your wildflower seed mix?

A new study from UCD reveals only 25% of species in 7 common wildflower seed mixes are native to Ireland. Of the 56 species listed on the packets, only 14 were native to Ireland, however none of the packets gave any information about where the seeds were sourced, so it’s unknown how many if any were of Irish provenance.

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan does not recommend or endorse any wildflower seed mixes or ‘seed ball’ type products. Taking part in initiatives like No Mow May allows native flowers like Dandelions, Clovers, and Birds-foot trefoil to grow, and provides the best source of nectar and pollen for our native pollinators.

Non-native species have the potential to negatively affect biodiversity if used in the wrong places.

Pollinators with a ‘Taste for the High Life’

There are over a hundred different species of wild bee on the island of Ireland. All are adapted to different habitats. Some pollinators prefer upland bogs and heaths, like the Mountain Bumblebee. This bee was first recorded in the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains in 1974 and is spreading southwards.

To observe pollinators, you need to slow down and find a sheltered sunny location, where upland plants are in flower such as Bilberry (April to July) or Heathers (Cross-leaved heath – May to September, Bell heather – July to September, Ling – July to October), then just keep your eyes peeled and your ears pinned. Photo: Ruth Wilson.

World Bee Day: Saving the Shrill Carder Bee

World Bee Day is on the 20th May. We’ll be celebrating by releasing a new rare species guide on the Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus sylvarum).

We know the Shrill Carder Bee has declined in Ireland, but we don’t have a good handle on the current status of this species. The Burren currently represents the most important location for this species in Ireland and Britain.This new guide is aimed at communities that have the Shrill Carder Bee and want to protect it. It will be the fifth guide we have developed with partners to share evidence-based actions on protecting some of our most endangered pollinators.

Keep an eye out on our social media, and our ‘helping endangered pollinators’ pages on World Bee Day. Photo: John Breen

Mark World Bee Day by carrying out a FIT Count

Flower-Insect Timed Counts (FIT Counts) are an important way that you can help us monitor pollinators. Download the free FIT Count App, watch a 50x50cm patch of flowers for 10 minutes and count how many insects visit. You can carry out a FIT Count anywhere, and on any flower, but where you can, please use one of our 15 target flowers. In May, its especially useful to carry out FIT Counts on Buttercup. You do need to wait until it’s sunny and at least 13C though!

In 2023, the average number of insects recorded on a FIT Count was 9. Why not try one where you are to mark World Bee Day 2024!