Wednesday, May 20, was World Bee Day.
Bees need flowers and on World Bee Day, Teagasc reminded farmers to allow space for common wildflowers to grow and flower on farms.
Early in the year, bees get pollen and nectar from willow, hazel and primrose. Now, whitethorn, bluebells and dandelions are important, while later on blackberry, woodbine and heather will feed the bees.
With its late flowers, ivy is the last source of food at the end of the year.
A diversity of common flowering plants is needed in hedgerows, field margins, field corners, along farm roadways and around farmyards. The quest for neatness should not override ecological considerations. Allow plants to flower before cutting.
A current cultural challenge is to get recognition that common ‘weeds’ are wildflowers which may (or may not) be growing in the wrong place.
The only plants which are universally undesirable are Invasive Alien Species such as Japanese Knotweed; while noxious weeds (ragwort, thistle, docks, male wild hop, common barberry and wild oats) must be controlled under the Noxious Weeds Act.
Recent research by Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist, found that farmers were positive towards biodiversity, but understanding of biodiversity was relatively poor, in particular: the value of common habitats; how species decline relates to individual farms; and how the absence of a ‘silent spring’ analogy masks serious declines.
Biodiversity is one of the principal public goods to which agriculture can contribute.