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All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Updates

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All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Updatesall Ireland pollinators


1. Keep an eye out for queen Bumblebees

The normal lifecycle of most Irish bumblebees ends when the workers and males die off and the newly mated queen hibernates through the colder winter months. Occasionally, at this time of year you can still see some bumblebee queens fattening up for hibernation. If you spot any queen bumblebees that you’re able to identify, it’s very useful to let us know what plant it was feeding on. Last November, queens were observed feeding on Ivy and on garden plants like Mahonia, Comfrey and Hebe. Photo below is the Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Joe Curtis).

Please submit any bumblebee sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre:
2. To do this month: Grow native trees from seed

Now is a great time to collect seeds from our native trees. The Rowan, Hawthorn and Elder berries are looking beautiful at the minute, and the flowers from these native trees are a valuable food source for our pollinators in the spring. Collecting and growing seeds from healthy trees in Ireland is the best way to ensure that local trees can flourish, and gaps are restored with native species. This is especially important at a time when trees and native plants are under attack from imported pests and diseases.

Read more here:
3. Our most pollinator friendly towns and villages - Tidy Towns Pollinator Award Winners 2022

Local Communities continue to carry out inspiring work in support of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. The Local Authority Pollinator Award aims to encourage Tidy Towns groups to implement pollinator-friendly actions in their towns and villages as part of the Tidy Towns competition. It is coordinated and sponsored by the Heritage Offices and Biodiversity Offices of Local Authorities across Ireland, in partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre. To date more than 200 communities have become pollinator friendly through the award.

Congratulations to all award winners but particularly to the overall 2022 winner, Cobh Tidy Towns in Co Cork.

Other awards:
  • Best newcomer: Cratloe Tidy Towns, Co Clare
  • Regional Winners Large Town: Cobh, Skerries, Clonmel, Buncrana
  • Regional Winners Small Town: Geashill, Belcarra, Castlegregory, Tullahought
Read more:
4. All-Ireland Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme: 2012-2021 report released

The All-Ireland Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme, established by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in 2012, is one of the first of its kind globally. It tracks bumblebees and uses the status of the 8 commonest species to generate a multi-species population index as a measure of the health of Ireland’s bumblebee populations. It provides vital baseline data that will be used to assess the impact of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. The scheme involves volunteers walking a fixed route (transect) each month from March to October and counting all the bumblebees seen. It represents a huge voluntary effort by citizen scientists. In 2021, 74 volunteers walked more than 1,000km and counted 17,607 individual bumblebees.

The current overall trend from 2012-2021 is a year-on-year decline of 4.1%. Bombus pascuroum (Common Carder Bee) has traditionally been one of our most common bumblebees, but is now showing a moderate decline. Unfortunately, Bombus muscorum (Large Carder Bee) is in severe decline. 2021 saw Bombus hypnorum (Tree Bumblebee) picked up in the scheme for the first time. It was recorded in low numbers on two transects in N. Ireland. The Tree Bumblebee is our most recent bumblebee arrival, being first recorded from the island of Ireland in Autumn 2017.

In response to the findings of the scheme, an evidence-based guideline document on how local communities can help protect the Large Carder Bee was published by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan in 2022:

Link to the 2012-2021 report
5. 2022 Ivy Bee update

This year, the National Biodiversity Data Centre was delighted to collaborate with Prof Francis Ratnieks (Sussex University and Ivy Bee expert) on a survey of the Ivy Bee in the southeast. The first Irish sighting was made by Jim Kenny at the Raven Nature Reserve in Wexford in October 2021 (photo below). As the 2022 autumn survey ended, new populations were found northwards from the Raven as far as Brittas Bay in Wicklow – a distance of some 60km. The distribution was coastal and was quite disjunct, suggesting that multiple colonisations from Britain probably took place. What is clear is that the bee has established in Ireland. The Ivy Bee colonised Britain at a remarkable rate of 30 km per year. If it follows suit in Ireland, it won’t be too long before many more of us get to see it on Ivy in autumn! Thanks to all those volunteers who helped with this survey in 2022.
6. New blog – where to pollinators go in winter?

Read the latest blog from Ruth Wilson, the farmland pollinator officer, on what happens to our pollinating insects in winter

Read more here:

7. Research update: Conserving diversity in Irish plant-pollinator networks

A scientific paper was recently published by Irish researchers on how best to conserve pollinator diversity. The AIPP aims to provide food, shelter and safety for bees and other pollinators. Primarily this means making sure there are plenty of floral resources and places to nest and removing threats to pollinator health. But because the insects that act as our pollinators are not all the same (bees, hoverflies, moths), this means that we need to cater for this diversity in our conservation actions. The plants that these insects pollinate also vary in what habitats they live in, when they flower, and the quantity and quality of nectar and pollen they produce.

This study aimed to answer the important question of how to determine what actions are best for our pollinator community as a whole. It reinforces many of the evidence-based actions that we continually promote within the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan - particularly the importance of native plants and natural long-flowering meadows. Don’t Sow, Let it Grow!

This blog from Prof Jane Stout in Trinity College Dublin is part of the ‘Dispatches from Researchers’ series and aims to pull out the key findings of the study. Read more:
8. Annual reporting 2022

Transparently tracking progress is a very important part of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. While the Plan is voluntary, at this time of year we do carry out extensive annual reporting. This includes:
  • A review of the 186 actions in the Plan itself, to include a 2022 progress report against each
  • Review on key actions taken in 2022 by each of our Council partners
  • Review on the actions each business supporter has taken in support of the AIPP in 2022
These three 2022 documents will be available on the website in December.
The 2021 summary of the 186 actions in the Plan is below

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