“Farmers should be encouraged to have beekeeping on their farms. Beehives should be classed as a unit of livestock so farmers are able to claim for that and look to that.”
That is what Fianna Fáil’s Erin McGreehan told the Seanad during a recent debate on the production of the native Irish Honey Bee bill 2021: second stage on Thursday, June 2nd, 2022.
The senator has put forward proposals since our bees are classed as livestock, that Ireland should work towards them being a unit of livestock.
She is of the view that “ if we positively encourage, we will get more beehives”.
In the context of this bill, she told the house that she wishes to highlight that “all honeybees are not born equal”.
“There is a real necessity to protect the native Irish bee. We must protect it from all external species and uphold the integrity of our native stock.”
The senator pointed to studies from LIT which prove this and“that we have enough native bee stock to save it”.
She said the population is low enough to be considered endangered. However, Ireland has sufficient numbers to ensure its native survival across Europe and to be a safe sanctuary.
Furthermore, she told the house that the department “needs to listen” to the fact that bees are “superpowers”. Not only do they produce honey, but they are also “essential” pollinators in this agricultural country.
She reiterated that Ireland has a long history of producing quality honey. As we all know, she added, bees have a complicated and innate ability to create and pollinate.
“However, they need to survive. What they need to survive is incredibly modest: pollen, nectar, honey, water, and a safe environment. It is up to us to provide that safe environment.”
She outlined that pollen and nectar are foraged from nearby flowers. That is, she stressed, why it is “so important” for bee colonies to be near a substantial number of native trees, native flowers, and native flora.
She is of the view that the DAFM’s “significant” increase in the budget for organic farming in the next CAP is another “very” important way of protecting the country’s native bees and all native insects and pollinators.