A beekeeper on the Beara peninsula is a member of a new association which aims to support Irish enthusiasts and encourage others to promote the ancient practice, writes Helen Riddell
A BEARA GP and beekeeper is a founding member of a new nationwide association which has been set up to support Irish beekeepers and encourage new people to take up the activity.
The Irish Beekeepers Association CLG, is an umbrella organisation which suports beekeeping associations and individual beekeepers across Ireland, and was formed, when a number of beekeepers throughout the country who were unhappy with issues in the beekeeping world.
Previously the main Irish beekeeping association was the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations (FIBKA).
Beara’s Jacqui Glisson and fellow beekeeper, Colette O’Connell from West Waterford, shared concerns over issues currently facing Irish beekeepers, including the loss of habitat and destruction of hedgerows, and the increasing use of pesticides, and voiced their concerns to fellow beekeepers and the Irish Beekeepers Organisation was established with a core group of 25 beekeepers representing 13 beekeeping associations from around Ireland. Jacqui explained: ‘We will be offering support to all beekeepers, encouraging people to take up beekeeping, and supporting all beekeepers, regardless of the type of bees they keep, in an environmentally sustainable manner.’ The new organisation is also actively promoting the National Pollinator plan, which was instigated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in 2015, which aims to address pollinator decline in Ireland, and support initiatives to rectify this, both in Ireland and across Europe.
Jacqui has been keeping Buckfast Honey Bees since 2009, a breed, which were first developed by a monk at Buckfast Abbey in England in the early 1900s, and are known for their foraging abilities. As well as being the secretary of the IBA, Jacqui is also actively involved in the West Cork Beekeepers Association, where she has held the roles of secretary and bee health officer, actively supporting fellow beekeepers and running courses for new beekeepers in the Beara area.
While still a relatively new organisation, Jaqui reports that membership is steadily growing.
Fellow Beara beekeeper, Barry Sullivan, is the chairman of the West Cork Beekeeping Association, and took up beekeeping following a course run by Jacqui.
‘Beara has always had a strong tradition of beekeeping, and Beara honey was once very highly sought after and was transported to Cork along the old Butter Road,’ he said.
*The Irish Beekeeping Association will also provide a full education programme for all beekeepers from beginners to senior level. For nire see www.irishbeekeepersassociation.com or the group’s Facebook page.