A new beekeeping association is set to create “a hive of activity” in the south of the county, to help replenish the stock of bees here, which once numbered in the hundreds of millions. It will also showcase some of the finest honey produced anywhere, in Ireland, a local enthusiast has said.
Wild bee numbers plummeted over recent decades in Donegal and reached a critical level about a decade ago, largely due to the ‘Verona mite’.
Last year 30 boxes of bees were transported up from the south east and to Donegal bee keepers in the years ahead, their hope is that numbers can once again become self sufficient.
Donegal has already three associations situated in Letterkenny, Foyle and Inishowen and with the newly formed South Donegal beekeepers the whole county will be covered for those wishing to learn the craft of beekeeping.
Beekeeping is an ancient craft which people all ages can easily learn, and with beekeeping undergoing a revival in the last few years, enthusiast Derek Byrne from Laghey told the Democrat:
“Not only do bees provide honey, pollen, royal jelly and beeswax, they pollinate our crops which is probably the most important gift they give us. The honey from each area is different depending which plants are in season so during the summer hives will produce different types of honey, from dandelion honey at the start of the season to heather and ivy honey at the end of the season.
“Each hive has about 50,000 bees working away for the beekeeper, within the hive bees have specific roles from the queen laying new eggs to the guard bees protecting the hive,” he said.
The taking of local honey with pollen produced locally, is also said to help with hayfever and numerous other medical conditions.
A recent trial in Sligo has also seen the benefit of honey, when put on ulcers. Derek added: “The medicinal benefits of honey goes back to ancient times and can be purchased at good prices from local markets and better still, the beekeeper himself. People can purchase honey in the main shops, but much of it is blended and not Irish.”
However, any beginner should never start in isolation and be practical, as if for example, if they know that they are allergic to bee stings, medical advise should be sought before making any decision.
But it could turn into both a profitable and healthy hobby, as stocks of Irish honey have been in decline for many years.
Anyone interested in learning the craft please can go along to the first meeting of the newly formed South Donegal Beekeepers Association in the Church of Ireland Hall, Castle Street, Donegal Town on Tuesday, April 3rd at 8pm. Beekeepers are welcome.
Please contact Derek Byrne on 074 9722340 or 085 1740647 for any further information.