All-Ireland Pollinator Plan - June 2022 newsletter
NEWSLETTER: JUNE 2022
1. To spot this month: 10 solitary bees that you might see in your garden
This month, rather than pick one pollinator to spot, it’s a solitary bee garden bucket list! Some of these are recent arrivals, so no one will be lucky enough to have all ten yet. Keep an eye out and see if you have any in your garden. Don't forget to submit your sightings: https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/start-recording
2. To do this month: Make sure your garden doesn’t have any hunger gaps
Try to make sure that your garden has something flowering from March to October for pollinators to feed on. In mine, it’s currently the Clover and Bird's-foot-trefoil in the lawn as well as various trees and shrubs (Laburnum, Lavender, Wallflower, Catmint). The bumblebees and solitary bees are earning their keep at the minute as they’re also very busy pollinating my fruit trees/bushes, strawberries, tomatoes and courgettes!
Many of you shared our message or took actions yourselves on World Bee Day (20th May). We are very grateful to you all for your support. To mark World Bee Day 2022, we recorded a series of three short talks so that they are available as a longer-term resource for those interested:
4. The joy of making your garden pollinator-friendly
To mark World Bee Day 2022, I have written a blog on the different wild bees that have visited my garden over the last few years. At the minute the tally is 18! For a small urban garden, 18 out of a total of 100 wild bee species isn’t bad. Especially when you consider that one third of our wild bees are threatened with extinction from the island of Ireland.
To mark World Bee Day 2022, Prof Jane Stout (co-founder of the AIPP) provided an update on the Irish Pollinator Research Network. Learn more about the fascinating research taking place in Ireland to underpin the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.
6. New evidence-based guidelines on creating solitary bee nest sites
Over the coming year, the ‘Protecting Farmland Pollinators’ project within the National Biodiversity Data Centre will publish a series of evidence-based action sheets on how to best support pollinators on farmland. The first of these is now available: How to create solitary bee nest sites on your farm.
This has clear step-by-step instructions on how to create nesting sites for ground-nesting solitary bees and above-ground cavity nesting bees. It includes practical advice such as the tools you need, and tips from farmers who have already created nesting habitats on their own farms. As part of the project, farmers created over 300 nest sites for mining solitary bees and 130 sites for cavity nesting solitary bees. While the action sheet was developed for farmland, the learnings will apply across all sectors and be of relevance to anyone interested in the most effective way to create nesting habitat for solitary bees.
Dr Noeleen Smyth has written a blog to highlight the problems around wildflower seed mixes and suggest alternative biodiversity actions. Noeleen is an Assistant Professor in Environmental Horticulture at UCD. She is a qualified botanist and chartered horticulturalist with 30 years’ national and international experience.
Thanks to those who have downloaded the free Flower-Insect Timed Count (FIT Count) app. Please help us collect more FIT Count data if you can. When it’s sunny, spend 10 minutes watching a patch of flowers and counting how many insects visit. The app brings you through how to do the count and makes it very easy to upload the data to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
During term time, pitches and grassy areas will be regularly mown giving kids important areas to play. However, during the summer holidays we are asking that schools consider leaving them for our pollinators. How School Groundskeepers can help:
From the end of June until mid-August, leave pitches unmown to allow wildflowers to naturally grow and provide food for insects.
If this isn’t possible, consider mowing just once across this period.
It’s important that when you do mow, that you remove the grass cuttings. Our native wildflowers grow better in poorer quality soil. By removing the cuttings each summer, you slowly reduce the soil fertility. This means that each summer the pitches will become more and more flower rich for pollinators.
The summer pitch might look like long grass to humans, but chances are that amongst the grass there will be lots of little flowers that will be lifesavers to our insects. Having 'pitches for pollinators' in schools across the island would create lots of pockets of excellent summer habitat for biodiversity.
If you have any contacts in schools, we’d be grateful if you can encourage them to leave ‘pitches for pollinators’