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23 Aug 2019

Local Irish language collective CAIRDE Teo recently celebrated ‘National Heritage Week’ by focussing on the ancient, fascinating and increasingly important pastime of beekeeping.

We are all aware that beekeeping provides us with essential products such as honey and beeswax.  More importantly, however, the bees act as pollinators that enable many crops to reproduce and thrive. Indeed, it is estimated that one third of the food that we consume daily relies on pollination, mainly by bees. This might explain why Albert Einstein was quoted as speculating, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live.”

With that in mind, CAIRDE Teo invited local beekeeper, Rónán Ó Cuin, to make a bilingual presentation on the ancient pursuit of keeping honey bees. Rónán  provided a background to his own interest in the hobby and demonstrated the equipment that he uses to build the hives and to extract and filter the honey and byproducts such as mead and beeswax.

Much of the focus of Rónán’s presentation was on the tradition of beekeeping in Ireland from the era of the early Christian monks right up to the present day. He explained that most hives in Ireland are comprised of one of three breeds of honey bee: the Irish bee; the Italian bee; and the Buckfast bee.

Participants were then brought to view Rónán’s beehives in the hills of Tassagh, which were relatively quiet, due to the damp and windy conditions on the evening. Rónán maintains most of his beehives in an orchard, which has an abundance of blossoms and wildflowers from which the bees collect nectar, not to mention a variety of native apple trees.

With the renewed focus on the importance of bees for pollination to sustain our flowers, edible plants and crops, CAIRDE Teo is actively encouraging local people to help support the indigenous bee population. Rónán’s honey is exclusively stocked in CAIRDE’s charity gift shop in Armagh City Shopping Centre on Thomas Street. The gift shop also stocks the popular ‘Beebombs’, which contain native wildflower seedballs that can be scattered onto cleared ground before flowering in a rainbow of spring and summer colour. The more wildflowers in our gardens and public spaces the better it is for the bee population, which has been decimated due to large scale agriculture and the prevalence of bee-killing pesticides.

Watch out for forthcoming environmental projects organised by CAIRDE Teo in the New Year that will allow you to become part of the growing ‘eco-revolution’!