Royal Dublin Becomes Bee Conservation Area (words prepared by Chris Greely)
After three seasons of successfully producing honey from our on-site beehives, Royal Dublin has been awarded an official European Dark Bee Conservation Area by the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS). The European dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), also known as the native Irish honeybee is one of the only remaining pure blood population of bees in the whole of Europe meaning that it is perfectly adapted to survive in Ireland's particular climate and floral habitats, a result of thousands of years of natural selection. It is however under threat of extinction due to hybridization with imported bees which has been the case with bee populations across the rest of Europe. This hybridization effectively weakens the genetic integrity of the bees over time, making them more prone to parasites and disease such as the mite varroa destructor, along with its associated viruses. These pathogens are thought to be among one of the leading causes of bee colony collapse. Furthermore, non-native subspecies are less equipped to deal with climatic and environmental changes.
We recently erected new ‘Conservation Area’ signs close to the bee hives located by the pond.
Currently around 75% of wild swarms that have been observed are hybridised but with enough effort these numbers can be turned around. One of the main ways of achieving this is by banning the importation of non-native queens into Ireland. Another is for beekeepers to agree to keeping only native species. This is why Royal Dublin has become one of the first golf clubs in the country to be classed as a bee conservation area and we hope we can lead by example for other establishments across the country to follow suit and make a meaningful impact on the ecological integrity of Ireland.