The greatest contribution of bees and other pollinators is the pollination of nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90% of the world’s food. This amounts to a third of the world’s entire food production depending on bees. In addition to food security, bees play an important role in relation to the capacity of sustainable agricultural production. Effective pollination increases the amount of agricultural produce, improves their quality and enhances plants’ resistance to pests. Bees are also vital for the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity in nature. Through their pollination, they protect and maintain ecosystems as well as animal and plant species, and contribute to genetic and biotic diversity.
Bees and other pollinators are increasingly under threat from human activities, including intensive farming practices, land-use change, mono-cropping and higher temperatures as a result of climate change. To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated May 20th as World Bee Day.
Úna Fitzgerald in the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Project Coordinator for the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan stresses the importance of supporting wild pollinators because as she explains - ‘One third of our 98 wild bee species are threatened with extinction from Ireland’.
“While honey bees in Ireland face threats, such as pesticides and disease, it is our wild bee species that are in decline and if lost they will be impossible to replace. Helping to conserve a managed pollinator like the honey bee is important, but this does not help the declining populations of our wild pollinators, and having too many honey bees in the landscape can even act as competition for our struggling wild bees. This is why keeping honey bee hives requires the proper training and experience to reduce the risk of lasting and negative impacts on wild pollinator species.”
Origin Green Role
Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme helps Irish farmers and food businesses recognise the importance of biodiversity by encouraging them to develop initiatives and set targets in their sustainability plans that focus on this area.
Through our partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) we provide funding and support the implementation of the NBDC’S All-Ireland Pollinator Plan by our Origin Green members. We have also worked closely with the NBDC, collaborating on guidelines to make farmland more pollinator-friendly.
Origin Green encourages members to include at least one biodiversity target in their plans under the manufacturing target area. We have committed funding to support Origin Green members in taking action for pollinator conservation.
Partnership with the NBDC and Pollinator Plan
Origin Green are proud partners of the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC). The NBDC is a national organisation that collects and manages data to document Ireland’s valuable wildlife resource, and to track how it is changing. The NBDC supports implementation of national and international legislation, provides data to assist national and regional planning and tracks changes in our biodiversity.
From 2016, Origin Green and the Heritage Council have jointly provided funding for the NBDC to employ a project officer to help implement the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. Origin Green has continued to work closely with the NBDC to support the implementation of the Pollinator Plan throughout Origin Green. Support of the Pollinator Plan offers businesses multiple benefits, such as demonstration of their sustainability credentials and a way of connecting with customers who care about biodiversity.
The National Biodiversity Data Centre have recently released their new version of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan for 2021-2025. This launch is the second phase of this very successful project, a new five-year roadmap that aims to help bees, other pollinating insects and Ireland's wider biodiversity. The new plan is even more ambitious than their previous published in 2015 – with more partners coming together to deliver even more actions this time around.
Read the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025 here.
Origin Green Member Companies
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan offers a framework to support corporate social responsibility objectives through a variety of low/no-cost actions. Along with the business benefits that come from supporting the Pollinator Plan, registered companies will receive a certificate of participation, as well as support in developing plans to take pollinator-friendly actions.
A number of our members have set specific biodiversity targets to help conserve Irish bee populations and their habitats.
Ballymaloe Foods “We are committed to creating a Pollination Plan with all of our Milk Farmers, working to bring about a landscape that pollinators can flourish.”
Country Crest “We have 5 bee hives installed to date on site to support the growth and sustainability of native Irish honeybee colonies.”
Farmers to Market “We are committed to increasing native Irish beehives on site from 2 to 10 over 5 years. Our decision to engage in beekeeping comes from a deep appreciation for the natural world around us. The pollination of neighbouring crops and the development of the flora and fauna within the localities in which our poultry production units exist is of great value to us.”
Glenisk “We are committed to creating a Pollinator Plan with all of our Milk Farmers, working to bring about a landscape that pollinators can flourish.”
Heineken Ireland “We are members of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, working to bring about a landscape that pollinators can flourish. We are also Operating Group members of an EIP Farmland Pollinator Programme, working with the National Biodiversity Centre.”
Killowen Farm “In the area of Biodiversity Killowen takes great pride in their surrounding environment continuing to maintain natural habitats while creating a strong and sustainable business. We have designated a specific wild area on the farm which will, not be touched, except enhanced with pollinator friendly plants, so as to allow the natural habitat to flourish.”
Shines Seafood Tuna “We are members of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, working to bring about a landscape that pollinators can flourish.”
Kinahan’s Whiskey “We are members of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, working to bring about a landscape that pollinators can flourish. We have also installed 6 bee hotels on site.”
Kingfisher Fresh “We are committed to creating an area for pollinators to flourish, by locating floral/planting along our premises.”
Kush Seafarms "We have created a bee hotel within a tree to support the growth and sustainability of native Irish honeybee colonies."
Meade Potato Company "We have added beehives to our farm this year and have a resident beekeeper who assists in growing these hives. We are also members of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, working to bring about a landscape that pollinators can flourish."
Musgrave Group “We at SuperValu created our Save the Bees campaign, with the help of our pollinator pack, to raise awareness of the importance of bees and show you the simple things you can do that will help save them!”
So what can I do to help?
- Plant native bee-friendly shrubs and plants in your garden.
- Reduce the use of harmful weed and pest killing chemicals in your garden.
- Support Irish beekeepers and look to source locally produced honey.
- Could you keep bees at home? Reach out to beekeeping organisations in Ireland and to understand what is involved and how you may be able to get involved.
- Read the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025 to learn more about Ireland’s pollinators and the plan’s objectives.