Irish Daily Mail
Bee careful to leave those dandelions in the garden
A BEEKEEPER has warned people to take extra care to not harm bumblebees when doing their gardening, in a bid to save Ireland’s dwindling bee population.
Peter Walsh, 77, from Carrigeen, Co. Kilkenny, has been monitoring the bumblebee population since 1959 – and one of his main tips to help reduce the plight of the humble bee is to leave dandelions growing in gardens.
The conscientious gardener has noted in recent years that the population of bumblebees is plummeting.
‘Between 1959 and 1997, the
‘We’ve lost 80% of our bumblebees’
situation was static. Between 1997 and today, we have lost 80% of our bumblebees,’ he told Newstalk Breakfast.
‘That means for every ten bumblebees we had in 1997, we now have two.’
Mr Walsh explained that bees have similar needs to humans and animals, as they rely on having food and shelter.
They often use high vegetation and grass for their nests, while their food comes from wild vegetation such as the sally tree [willow] and dandelion flowers.
He said people should bear this in mind when tending to their garden, warning that it is most important that people do not cut their dandelions.
‘I’m appealing to everyone listening to me to not cut your dandelions: this is crucial if we want to save our bees,’ he said. ‘Leave the dandelion flower.
‘When you’re mowing the lawn or cutting down the trees or bushes... think of the birds and the bees and keep away from the spraying can.’
There are around 100 species of bee in Ireland – 21 of them types of bumblebee. However, populations are dwindling in many countries due to a loss of habitat and the increased use of pesticides.
Around three-quarters of the world’s crops benefit from insect pollination, and one third of the human diet is reliant on them.
Many of our plant species would not be pollinated in sufficient numbers to sustain their populations without bumblebees.