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Wild Honey Bee Presentation

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Free Living Honey Bee Research Presentation

The next meeting of the Fermanagh Beekeepers Association – on Thursday the 28th March – will hear about new research being carried out by the Department of Zoology at the National University of Ireland, Galway, into wild honey bees.

Honeybees first colonised Ireland after the end of the last Ice Age and the strain of bee that has since evolved has become adapted to our climate – being able, for example, to survive our wet and colder winters. Given its suitability to our climate, there is a growing realisation that our native strain of honey bee is best suited to adapt to the recent pressures such as new bee parasites like varroa, the loss of habitat, and modern gardening and farming practices. Over the last 20 years or so, it was thought that these pressures had all but wiped out our wild bee population.

Researchers at the University in Galway have been trying to find out more about the wild bee population in the hope that its ability to adapt and survive in the face of these pressures, holds the key to improving the wellbeing of our bee population and other pollinators. At the next meeting, local beekeepers will hear more about the findings from Dr Keith Browne, one of the lead researchers at Galway.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Dr Browne said,
“Our research has shown that a genetically pure population of free-living native Irish honey bees, Apis mellifera mellifera, not only exists – but may contain colonies that can survive Varroa, the parasite that has had such a devastating impact on our honey bees. This population is fast becoming the focus of conservation efforts in Ireland and some other European countries.”

The Fermanagh Beekeepers have commenced their own project to assess the presence of wild honey bees in the County, which they hope will contribute to the research at Galway and elsewhere.

David Bolton, the chairman of the Fermanagh Beekeepers Association said,
“The Association, with the support of the Eva Crane Trust and the Lough Erne Partnership, will be placing wild bee boxes with the help of our local National Trust properties and other partners, in local woodlands, so we can better understand how our wild bee population is managing.”
As this is such an important subject with very interesting findings coming from the research at Galway, the Fermanagh Beekeepers are inviting anyone interested in the subject – and more widely, in our natural environment and the contribution of pollinators to our landscape, gardening and farming – to come along to the meeting.

The meeting will be held in the Enniskillen Hotel on Thursday the 28th March, commencing at 8.00 pm.