Bal­ly­cul­lane’s Blá­naid in new pri­mary school book

New Ross Standard - - NEWS -

THE work of a sci­en­tist from Co. Wex­ford is to fea­ture in a new na­tional se­ries of Sci­ence Ap­pren­tice books from Univer­sity Col­lege Dublin (UCD) aimed at en­cour­ag­ing pri­mary school chil­dren to ex­plore sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math­emet­ics.

Blá­naid White, from Bal­ly­cul­lane, has found that plant­ing flow­ers and not mow­ing our lawns as of­ten are ways in which peo­ple can help to keep our vi­tal bee pop­u­la­tion from fur­ther dwin­dling.

She is an As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor with the School of Chem­i­cal Sci­ences in DCU and she said a slight change in at­ti­tude could see big im­prove­ments in ad­dress­ing the world’s dwin­dling bee pop­u­la­tion.

Pro­fes­sor White also said that ev­ery­day foods like ap­ples, straw­ber­ries, toma­toes, beans and rape­seed oil could all dis­ap­pear if cur­rent threats to the bee pop­u­la­tion aren’t tack­led.

‘All of na­ture’s pol­li­na­tors, and bees in par­tic­u­lar, are un­der global threat,’ said Pro­fes­sor White.

‘Around the world we’ve no­ticed that there has been colony col­lapse and en­tire colonies of bees have dis­ap­peared,’ she added.

‘We’re not en­tirely sure why this is hap­pen­ing just yet but cer­tainly plant­ing flow­ers is crit­i­cal in Ire­land and across the world.’

Sci­en­tists be­lieve that in­fec­tion by cer­tain mites, overuse of weed-killing chem­i­cals and a gen­eral lack of food­stuffs for bees are the key causes of the pop­u­la­tion de­cline and Pro­fes­sor White said the role bees play in spread­ing pollen from plant to plant is very im­por­tant.

‘ The amount of fruit that those plants pro­duce is based on how much they’ve been pol­li­nated,’ she said.

‘When straw­ber­ries, soft fruits and even oil seed rape are pol­li­nated ef­fec­tively their yield is up to 30 per cent higher than it would oth­er­wise be,’ she added.

Her views are backed up by the Ir­ish Pol­li­na­tors Re­search Net­work which said it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to al­low wild­flow­ers to grow and not to just cul­ti­vate lawns.

‘It would also help if peo­ple waited longer when mow­ing lawns to let flow­ers grow long enough for bees to feed from them,’ said Pro­fes­sor White.

She added that weeds also have a part to play: ‘ The best gar­dens are those that have lots of wild­flow­ers.’

She added that bees dis­ap­pear­ing would have a mas­sive af­fect on food crops.

‘A lot of fruit and many of our main crops would ei­ther not bear fruit or would be mas­sively di­min­ished,’ she said.

Pro­fes­sor White’s work will ap­pear in a book called ‘Up In The Air’ which is due out on Satur­day, Novem­ber 10.

It was pro­duced by UCD and sup­ported by the Sci­ence Foun­da­tion Ire­land Dis­cover Pro­gramme and the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

‘ These books are a great way for par­ents to get their chil­dren in­ter­ested in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy,’ said Pro­fes­sor White.

Pro­fes­sor Blá­naid White.

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