Newsletter: February 2023

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 large bumblebee queens as they emerge from hibernation

The two most common bumblebee queens you will spot this month are the Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) and the White-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum). They are similar to each other – both have one band on the thorax, one band on the abdomen and a whitish tail. The Buff-tailed bumblebee has orange bands and a buff or off-white tail. The White-tailed bumblebee has lemon yellow bands and a clean white tail. Submit your sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. You can attach a photo if you’re not sure if you have the correct identification.

Submit your bumblebee sightings

To do this month: check if you have any early food sources for pollinators

Most wild bees don’t come out of hibernation before March, but you will see some early bumblebees this month (like the two above). From next month, many native plants will begin flowering again, but in this early hunger gap gardens can be very important sources of food. It’s a big part of the reason why we promote bulb planting in autumn! It’s a good idea to have a look at your garden and check if there are any early flowering ornamental plants you could add.
More information

Bumblebee poster

In preparation for bumblebees reappearing to brighten up our lives again, now is a great time to remind yourself of what the different species look like. We have lots of National Biodiversity Data Centre resources to help:

Free poster

Free online identification course


Right Tree, Right Space, Right Place

Native trees can be excellent sources of food for pollinators, especially in spring and early summer. Within the Pollinator Plan, we are delighted to release a new free resource: a flyer with guidance on planting trees for pollinators, produced with the support of the Tree Council of Ireland, the Native Woodland Trust, and Trees on the Land.
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Top Ten Bulbs

In April, the AIPP plans to launch a new Top Ten planting guideline with pollinator friendly plants for different situations. These are mostly ornamental plants and the guide is intended to help you choose the best plants in garden settings. We are delighted to have collaborated on this with Dr Noeleen Smyth in UCD. Below, you can get a taster with our top ten bulbs for pollinators. Your garden might have these already. If not, you should make a plan to add some in the autumn.

Please think twice about planting wildflower seed


Our pollinators need the native flowers they have evolved alongside. Studies have shown that the seeds in many wildflower seed mixes are imported from other countries, and are not native, despite what the packet might say. There is a huge risk of accidentally bringing in invasive species like Black grass that, if spread, would be devastating to the Irish agricultural industry.

Wildflower seed mixes are much more attractive to humans than to pollinators. If you decide to buy wildflower seed, source it very carefully, and never plant outside garden settings.

If you really want to help pollinators & biodiversity, our advice is always to Don’t Sow, Let it Grow

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