Ella McSweeney’s article on bees highlights the loss of wildflower and meadow habitats and the mass extinction of invertebrates.
An immediate remedy would be to curb herbicide use in verges and hedgerows and introduce a yearly (July/August) cut-and-clear-debris regime to facilitate wildflowers.
Herbicides kill most perennial plants and encourage coarse weeds- nettles, cow-parsley and cleavers, and need to be used again the next year.
Cut-and-clear weakens coarse weeds and promotes biodiversity, with the return of species such as cowslips, ox-eye daisies and native orchids.
New wildflower meadows are a possible solution – they require cut-and-clear if they are not to revert to scrub, or become dumping grounds.
If introduced in existing public parks and grassy spaces, such as the Phoenix Park, a cut-and-clear regime (hay-making, instead of the current mulch-mowing), combined with introduction of the native yellow rattle (which weakens coarse grass and thus facilitates perennial flora), would over a few years create wide acres of “new” wildflower meadows at little public expense.
Dr J Holden,
To bee or not to bee (Irish Times letters page)
Related: A third of all bee species in Ireland could be extinct by 2030 (Ella McSweeney, Irish Times, June 28, 2018)
Pic: Donegal Diaspora
Nicholas Street, Dublin 8.
Grantham Street Dublin 2.
Stop stinging everyone so.
Get a hanky.
As you may know Irish farmers have just finished sowing their winter cereal crops….including oilseed rape.
Dr Dara Stanley writes:
I wanted to let you know about a study we have been doing In Trinity College Dublin on crop pollination by bees and other pollinators in Ireland.
Our paper [published online today – link below] found that oilseed rape crops produce 27% less seed when not visited by pollinators, which amounts as a benefit of €3.9 million of oilseed rape pollination to Irish Economy.
Oilseed rape flowers that were pollinated only by wind, where bees and other insects were excluded, produced on average 27% less seed than those that were visited by insects”
G’wan the bee and others.
However, the story is not all good news. A recent EU ban on certain neo-nicotinoid pesticides for use on flowering crops is based on evidence that these pesticides can harm bees; and these pesticides are commonly used in oilseed rape, especially as seed dressings. This indicates a mismatch between the benefits of pollination to the crop and harmful impacts of pesticides on bees.
Thanks, Dr Buzzkill.