Grass

A to Bees

In 2015 bee experts in Ireland came together to produce the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.

It was decided to do this because lots of our bees are in big trouble and could disappear from Ireland if we don’t do something to help. Without bees, our wild flowers would begin to disappear, and we wouldn’t be able to grow our own fruits and vegetables. We, at SuperValu, don’t want this to happen, we want to hear the buzz of hard-working bees carrying out their important pollination work. We want them to be there so that we can grow healthy food to feed you, now and for generations to come.

To help stop bees disappearing from Ireland we have teamed up with the National Biodiversity Data Centre of Ireland and the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. We want to teach everyone about the importance of bees, why we need them to pollinate and the significant role they play in conserving our natural environment.

What is Pollination?

In 2015 bee experts in Ireland came together to produce the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. It was decided to do this because lots of our bees are in big trouble and could disappear from Ireland if we don’t do something to help. Without bees, our wild flowers would begin to disappear, and we wouldn’t be able to grow our own fruits and vegetables. We, at SuperValu, don’t want this to happen, we want to hear the buzz of hard-working bees carrying out their important pollination work. We want them to be there so that we can grow healthy food to feed you, now and for generations to come. To help stop bees disappearing from Ireland we have teamed up with the National Biodiversity Data Centre of Ireland and the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. We want to teach everyone about the importance of bees, why we need them to pollinate and the significant role they play in conserving our natural environment.

Afraid of bees?

The good news is that wild bees are not aggressive and have no interest in humans. They are solely focused on finding enough pollen and nectar to feed themselves and their young.

What's so important about pollination?

We know that pollination occurs when pollen is moved from flower to flower, and that it means the plant can make seeds. These little seeds will grow up into new plants. We eat a lot of plants so it’s very important that there is always enough to feed the people in the world. The plants we eat are called crops. Bees are really important to make sure we keep on growing healthy and delicious food; so that when we go to the supermarket we can choose from lots of fruit and vegetables. Things would get pretty boring if it was just bread, rice and corn on the shelf’s day after day!

Who else needs bees?

Farmers

Lots of crops are pollinated by bees, and this helps the farmer with all the work that has to be done on the farm. If farmers had to pollinate the plants by themselves this would take too much time and cost too much money. We would also have a lot less fruit and veg!

Animals and Birds

Lots of our animals and birds feed on fruits and seeds from wild plants that grow in the countryside. Without bees and other insects pollinating these wild plants, they wouldn’t produce the fruits and seeds that animals and birds need to eat. Fruits are the part of the plant that surrounds and protects the seed.

Other Plants

In Europe there are 264 crop plants that we eat. In Ireland alone, we have another 2,300 flowers and trees that grow in the wild. They need to be pollinated too! We know that some of these wildflowers and trees provide important food for our animals and birds. They also provide them with shelter.

Wild plants like buttercups and daisies provide us with a beautiful, colourful place to live. Without bees pollinating our plants, our countryside would be a very dull and boring place.
We all understand how important it is to look after the environment and know all the things we can do to take care of our planet. Pollinators do lots to protect the environment too.


Pollinators are in danger!

A lot of our hard-working pollinators are in danger of disappearing forever (becoming extinct). Changes to their homes, the use of chemicals on our crops and nasty diseases spell trouble for bees and insects. We need to work to protect them or they may not be around for much longer.

The buzz about bees...

The buzz about bees...

 

There are 99 different species (types) of bees in Ireland. We have one honeybee, 21 different bumblebees and 77 different solitary bees.

The most important thing to know is that you shouldn’t be scared of bees. To them we’re just big boring giants that walk around their world. Unless you threaten them, bees will not attack humans. They won’t chase after you if you leave them alone. If a bee comes close to you, attracted by your bright colourful t-shirt, or the nice smell from your shampoo, just sit still and it will fly off when it realises you’re not a flower!

The Honeybee and Bumblebee are probably the ones you know the best.

Did you know?

In order to make 1 pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited!

For a strawberry flower to turn into a strawberry it needs to be visited five times by a bumblebee or 15 times by a honey bee. That’s just for one strawberry! Apples need to be visited even more times.

The Honeybee

Honeybees make honey from nectar and are happy to live in hives that have been built by people. They store the honey and use it as food for themselves when it’s too wet or cold to go outside. We love honey too and lucky for us Honeybees generally make much more honey then they can eat themselves – leaving the rest for us!

The Bumblebee

The Bumblebee is probably the most famous of bees (and cutest) with its fat, furry, stripy body. They are very important pollinators of crops like strawberries and tomatoes. So, the next time you dig into a bowl of strawberries and ice cream, stop for a moment and think of the big bumbler that made it possible!

Life Cycle: Bumblebee

Most bumblebee queens come out of hibernation in early Spring. Some types of bumblebees are fussy eaters and like to feed on flowers that grow in grassland meadows. These bumblebees have to wait until early Summer to come out of hibernation so that the grassland flowers will be there when they wake up.

Bumblebee life cycle

Life Cycle: Solitary Bees

Solitary bees are bees that live alone and not in a hive or nest like honeybees or bumblebees. They take a whole year to grow into an adult bee. This means they don’t have time to look after their babies when they are born. The mum leaves a supply of food and the young bees then need to look after themselves. Most solitary bees collect pollen from lots of different plant species. A small number of solitary bees are very fussy eaters and will only collect pollen from one type of plant.

Solitary Bee Life Cycle

Other pollinators doing their bit

It’s easy to think that bees are doing all the pollinating work, but did you know that hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps and ants like to feed on flowers and do their bit for pollination too? In fact, an Irish flower called the Butterfly Orchid is only pollinated by moths that fly around at night. Wonder why it’s not called the Moth Orchid then, hum?

What do pollinators need to live?

Honeybees live in hives and are looked after by beekeepers. Beekeepers do an important job by keeping an eye on their hive and making sure the honeybees are happy and have enough to eat, especially over the Winter months.

Bumblebees and solitary bees prefer to look after themselves. They don’t live in hives but in nests that they make themselves. Bumblebees make their nests on the ground, hidden in long grass. Solitary bees’ nest in tiny burrows that they make in soil or wood.

It’s very important that we help bees by providing habitats where they can live. These are areas where they can make a safe home and will have enough food (flowers) to feed their families.

Gardens, grasslands, sand dunes (keep an eye out the next time you are at the beach), bogs, woodlands, parks and hedgerows are all very important. All these different kinds of spaces give the bees good places to nest and a choice of yummy things to eat – bees get bored eating the same thing for dinner every day too!

Our changing environment

Bees and insects don’t like change. They love routine and it is really important for them that the seasons (Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer) come and go when they are meant to and that the climate (weather) stays the same. If the environment starts to change, then this can cause big problems for our insect friends. If the warm weather comes too soon, bees will wake up early from hibernation and because the flowers have not yet come out the bees will go hungry with no food to eat. Bees and insects find it hard to live in extreme weather like storms and floods, or snow and frost when it should be warm.

What kind of things will the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan do to help?

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is a plan of action. A group of grown-ups decided that bees need our help, so they sat down and came up with a big list of 81 things we could do. Lots of different people have agreed to help. We’re doing this because we know how important bees are and we don’t want them to disappear from Ireland. Bees need flowers and safe places to live right across Ireland, not just in the countryside. SuperValu is working with the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, because by looking after where you’re from, we can help Save the Bees together!

Here are some of the other things that are being done:

  • Councils won’t cut the grass along our roadsides as often so that flowers can grow amongst the long grass. Short grass looks neat and tidy, but it doesn’t provide anything for bees to eat – we know they need flowers.
  • Parks will plant flowers that bees love. This will provide them with healthy and nutritious pollen and nectar.
  • Parks will have areas where bumblebees and solitary bees can make their nests.
  • Farmers will try to make sure their farms have lots of flowers for bees to eat. They will use fewer and less harmful weed and pest killing chemicals that can make bees sick.
  • Scientists in Ireland will try to understand bees better, so we know exactly what they need to stay healthy.
  • We can all help by teaching as many people as possible to identify the different types of bees we have in Ireland.
  • Did you know? There is a bee friendly map of Ireland on Pollinators.ie showing areas where people are doing something to help the bees. Anyone can record their results here, even you! This will help The National Biodiversity Centre of Ireland keep count and check they are all doing OK.


 

What is SuperValu TidyTowns?

SuperValu TidyTowns is a community initiative which is sponsored and supported by SuperValu. The SuperValu TidyTowns competition is over 60 years old. It aspires to make Ireland better, to instil pride in our community and to protect our landscape and heritage to hand on to the generations to come after us. At SuperValu, we believe in the importance of where you’re from. SuperValu TidyTowns is committed to working with local communities to make each local area a more beautiful and sustainable place to live.

924 communities from across Ireland entered the SuperValu TidyTowns Competition in 2019 and the overall winner was the village of Glaslough in Co. Monaghan.

Why not join your local TidyTowns Committee?

They are always looking for new volunteers and it’s great fun too! Just make contact with your local group or visit www.tidytowns.ie to find out more.

Why not get your school to take part in the SuperValu TidyTowns Competition?

Along with the main awards there are also several special awards that you can enter. One of the special awards is the SuperValu Schools Award, this award encourages schools in each and every community to get involved with their local committees and play their part towards creating a better community. To find out more about SuperValu TidyTowns and how you can play your part visit www.tidytowns.ie


 

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