Thursday, 05 October 2023

Bees Returned to Cashel Palace

CPH Bees 13 compressed

As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, biodiversity and the environment, the Cashel Palace Hotel has officially declared a Conservation Area for the Native Irish Black Honey Bee. This honey bee is part of the Dark European Honey Bee subspecies that evolved in northwestern Europe. Scientific research conducted by LIT & NUIG confirmed unambiguously in 2018 that Ireland's population is genetically distinctive. This distinctiveness contributes to the traits that make it the honey bee best adapted to Ireland's climate and weather patterns.

However, honey bees mate in the open, outside of beekeepers' control, making the native black honey bee vulnerable to external threats, principally hybridisation with non-native honey bees. For this reason, the Dark European Honey Bee is now extinct in most of its native range of North West Europe. The island of Ireland is its last stronghold in Europe.

Devised by the Native Irish Honey Bee Society, designation of Conservation Areas is a vital tool in saving it from extinction. The Native Irish Honey Bee is accorded special protection by creating a safe haven to breed without fear of interbreeding with non-native honey bees. While declaring the conservation area, The Cashel Palace has provided a site for the propagation of this precious genetic resource.

Local master beekeepers Aoife and Micheal Mac Giolla Coda from Galtee Honey Farm – have come on board, supplying and looking after the honey bees at the Cashel Palace. Galtee Honey Farm is located between Mitchelstown and Cahir. It is at the heart of Ireland's first Conservation Area established by Galtee Bee Breeding Group. They breed queen bees for beekeepers throughout Ireland and are heavily involved in honey bee conservation. Aoife is currently the chairperson of the South Tipperary Beekeepers' Association. Both of them are co-founders of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society.

The Cashel Palace are delighted to welcome bees back to the historical site, which has a history and heritage of honey bees. This can be seen from the original 'bee boles' in the car park wall of the hotel. These bee boles are alcoves in the wall and are easily observed from the carpark. They were once used for holding traditional straw beehives or 'skeps' before the invention of modern wooden beehives. South Tipperary has a rich history regarding bees and honey production. It has one of the longest-running beekeeping clubs in Ireland and holds the oldest conservation areas for the native Irish black honey bee.

The field where they will be situated in will also be rewilded benefiting other pollinators including bumblebees and solitary bees. This will be in line with action points within the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. Honey bees can fly up to 5 kilometres and will collect typically Irish honey from wildflowers such as blackberry, clover, hawthorn and ivy.