World Bee Day 2021: Digital map tracks native Irish Honeybees

  • Today (20 May 2021) marks World Bee Day and to commemorate it, a new interactive digital map has been created, marking the Voluntary Conservation Areas of the Native Irish Honeybee around Ireland.

    Geographic Information Specialists Esri Ireland made the virtual tool using its ArcGIS mapping system.

    A total of 18 areas across Ireland have been declared Voluntary Conservation Areas by local beekeeping associations, as part of an all-island approach by the Native Irish Honeybee Society (NIHBS) to protect and promote Ireland's native honeybee (Apis mellifera mellifera).

    Of the 99 species of bee across the island, this is the only one native to its shores. Originally feared extinct in Ireland, a recent study found that millions of this native bee are, in fact, living in at least 300 hives across the country.

    While they should still be considered endangered, the study proved that Ireland now has potentially the greatest reserve of Apis mellifera mellifera in the world, and could help to restock the population of Northern Europe.

    RELATED: Esri hub shows COVID-19 impact across every county in Ireland

    This is the fourth observance of World Bee Day, and the theme for 2021 is “Bee Engaged – Build Back Better for Bees”. The goal is to strengthen measures aimed at protecting bees and other pollinators.

    To mark World Bee Day this year, a university diploma course at NUI Galway (NUIG) has also been launched within its zoology department.

    The course in scientific studies of apiculture was designed with, and will run in partnership with, the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations (FIBKA) to “provide quality third level education on bees and beekeeping”.

    Anyone with an interest in entomology, pollinators and the decline of bees and pollinators more generally would benefit, said Professor Grace McCormack from the university.

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