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The importance of Pollinators:
Pollination occurs when pollen is moved from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as bees,
butterflies, moths, beetles, birds and bats. There are many food crops in Ireland which are dependent
on pollinators including apples, blackcurrants, strawberries, courgettes, tomatoes etc. The loss or
reduction in the diversity and/or abundance of pollinator species can have a negative impact on crop
The value of pollinators on an annual basis for crop production in the Republic of Ireland has been
estimated to be in the region of €53 million. In all pollinators are vital for a healthy, balanced farm
ecosystem on which sustainable agricultural production is dependent.
Our most important pollinators are the insects but particularly bees and
flies. In Ireland we have 98 different bee species which include one
species of Honeybee, 20 Bumblebee species and 77 Solitary bee species.
The Honeybee is a managed pollinator and is associated with the
production of honey as well as crop pollination. The other 97 species are
wild bee species. Ireland also has 180 species of hoverfly which also
provide pollination and pest control for a number of food crops.
Figure 1: Bombus terrestris.
Scientific research has found that many of our bee species are under threat with many indicating
serious declines in their population numbers since 1980. According to the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature (IUCN), up to 30% of Irelands bee species are threatened with extinction.
The main pressures that are causing a decline in Ireland’s pollinators include habitat loss, decline in
food sources, pests and disease, pesticides and climate change.
Our wild pollinator species are dependent on their immediate
environment for all of their resources. Wild bees need habitats that are
flower rich throughout the countryside. These habitats can include
grasslands, peatlands, woodlands, hedgerows, roadside verges and
gardens. Perennial wildflowers such as clovers, vetches and knapweeds
are an excellent food resource for pollinators.
Figure 2: Wildflower Meadow.
The National Biodiversity Data Centre has developed a strategy in order
to address pollinator decline and to protect pollination services. Resources developed include the AllIreland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020, All-Ireland Junior Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 and the Local
communities actions to help pollinators. The local communities actions to help pollinators has been
developed for groups who may be interested in implementing the pollinator plan in their area and may
be of interest to TidyTowns groups.
For more information on the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and other resources go to:
For anyone wishing to contact me or if there are any topics of interest to you, please send your
suggestions to [email protected]