Friday, June 29, 2012

Enjoy the read
29 June 2012
Why is pollination important?
·         Pollination services provided by insects, mainly bees, are worth EUR 153 billion a year, according to EU-funded research.

·         The production of more than three-quarters of world crops depend on insect pollination.

·         Crops that depend on pollinators include the majority of fruits, vegetables, oil and protein plants, nuts, spices, and stimulant crops like coffee and cocoa.

·         In terms of weight, 35% of the world food production come from crops which depend on insect pollination, 60% come from crops which do not (such as cereals) and 5% come from crops on which the impact of insect pollination is still unknown.

·         The FAO recently estimated that out of 100 crop species which provide 90% of food worldwide, 71 of these are bee-pollinated. 

·         The complete loss of insect pollinators, particularly that of honey bees and wild bees which are the main crop pollinators, would not lead to the catastrophic disappearance of agriculture throughout the world, but would result in substantial economic losses and greatly increased food prices for the consumer.

·         Pollinators, particularly bees, are in decline around the world. In some agricultural areas, farmers already have to import bees to ensure their crops are pollinated.
Pollinators in Ireland
·         The honeybee and Ireland’s native bumblebees are the main pollinators of crops in Ireland.

·         A study from the Department of the Environment found that bees are worth €85m a year to the economy.

·         Ireland has 101 native bee species, and these are known to be in decline.

·         Our diverse native flora is dependent on a range of pollinators, of which bees, hoverflies, and moths are most important.
Ireland has 101 native bee species

In addition to the honeybee, Ireland has 20 bumblebee species and 80 solitary bee species.
The Irish fauna

·         Ireland’s bee fauna is less than half the size of that in Britain, which has about 260 species, and is very depauperate is comparison to central Europe. This is due to Ireland’s oceanic climate, small surface area and isolated location at the western periphery of Europe.

·         Within Ireland, there are clear regional differences in the native fauna, which are assumed to reflect climactic variation with the country. The south east of Ireland, in particular, is richer in species number for solitary bees. This is not the case for bumblebees, which are less influenced by small differences in climate.

·         The west of Ireland (particularly areas around the Burren, the Aran Islands and the Mullet peninsula) has a high diversity of bumblebees and is key for many of the threatened species. Many species have been lost from the east of the country due to extensive agricultural intensification and urbanization.

·         Some bee species are generalists and can exist in a range of different habitat types, including parks and gardens. This includes many of the bumblebees and some solitary species (e.g.Halictus rubicundus, Lasioglossum albipes, Andrena scotica).

·         Others species are habitat specialists and are restricted to particular habitat types. The most important habitats for specialists are species rich grassland (Bombus sylvarum, Andrena marginata, Nomada argentata), sand dunes (Megachile maritima, Osmia aurulenta, Colletes floralis, Colletes similis, Colletes daviesanus) and upland heath/bog (Bombus monticola, Andrena fuscipes, Colletes succinctus). Some species are most strongly associated with native woodland sites (Andrena clarkella, Andrena denticulata , Nomada leucophthalma) but we have little evidence in Ireland of species that are found exclusively within this habitat type.

·         Some bees are recent arrivals to Ireland. The early nesting bumblebee, Bombus pratorum, was first recorded here in 1947 and is now widespread and abundant throughout the country. The most recently arrived bumblebee is the mountain bumblebee, Bombus monticola, which was first recorded in the Wicklow Mountains in 1974. Since then it has been spreading south into counties Carlow and Wexford. It has also been found in counties Antrim, Tyrone and Derry in Northern Ireland. It is unlikely to spread as rapidly as the early nesting bumblebee because it is a habitat specialist and is restricted to suitable areas of bog/heath.

·         Many of the native bees in Ireland are threatened, as highlighted in the national red list. However, we do retain important populations for a number of species. Of these, the most important is Colletes floralis, the Northern Colletes bee, which is a coastal solitary species restricted to sand dunes in Ireland. It has undergone severe declines in other countries across northern Europe. Fortunately in Ireland it is not declining and there are still lots of healthy populations on the east and west coasts. Ireland now holds a significant proportion of the world’s population, making this a very important location for the species.

·         The shrill carder bee, Bombus sylvarum, and the large carder bee, Bombus muscorum, have both dramatically declined in Britain. Both are threatened and need to be closely monitored in Ireland but we do still have many healthy populations, particularly of Bombus muscorum, which appears to be capable of exploiting the urban environment here. Bombus monticola, the most recently arrived bumblebee to Ireland, is also expanding here, despite being under decline in Britain where it is currently in a species recovery programme.

·         Ireland also has a unique bumblebee subspecies Bombus muscorum var. allenellus, which is found only on the Aran Islands.

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South Circular Road Community Food Garden Project

The South Circular Road Community Food Garden Project started in April 2007. We have a derelict site on loan from ST Salvage Company that we have converted into a community food garden. This is a continuation of the initial successful Dolphins Barn Community squatted food garden that was on the canal from 2005 -2007.