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Wild About Wildlife: It’s a bee’s life

Wild About Wildlife: It’s a bee’s life

The common carder bee is one of our most common bumblebee species in Ireland

THE beautiful village of Anglesboro, is nestled in the foothills, of the Galtee Mountains. These once untamed lands, were often used as a refuge, for those who found themselves, on the wrong side of the law.

Today the only wild creatures, seeking shelter and food are the pollinators. This is due to the very enthusiastic and hard work of the Tidy Towns committee who are creating an oasis of flowers for our hard pressed bees.

I recently met the committee and wider community for a stroll around the village. This is part of their pollinator project to raise awareness around why bees are important and how we can help conserve them.

We started out by the long bed in front of the community centre. The long trailing flowers of nepeta were in full bloom, in the evening sunshine. The bumblebees were very busy and we could see the full pollen baskets on their legs.

We recorded the workers of the white tailed bee, red tailed bee and the early bumblebee. Also a large common carder bumblebee. The committee are planning to sow in foxglove and also plant early bulbs like crocus, snowdrop, bluebell and heathers. These will provide early nectar and pollen for bees.

Down by the bridge the grass in the field is nearly ready to cut. A flower rich meter stripe is left uncut each summer around the boundary. This is a brilliant feeding station for bees and birds. Holes in the wall are potential nesting locations and care needs to be taken when carrying out repairs.

Next we strolled along the auld road. The native hedgerow has a large gap and this could be filled in with fruiting trees. Birds and bats do not like large gaps as they feel unsafe crossing them. The purple flowers of vetch were dotted along the base of the hedge and bees with long tongues, like to sip its nectar.

Back in the village we were kindly invited into one of the committee members garden. She had many beautiful plants including cotoneaster. Its tiny white flowers are deceptive, and are a real magnet for insects. At dusk she is treated to the sight of bats emerging from the attic and has counted up to 45.

Encouraging wildlife means that we don’t need to manage every piece of ground in our communities. Nature will fill in even the most difficult spots with colourful and wildlife friendly plants.

Also conserving existing habitats is equally important. The large bank in front of the proposed new graveyard is packed full of flowers and is irreplaceable in three lifetimes. Across the road we found the mines of solitary bees that had been busy diggings.

We met a local man out walking, and his interest and knowledge in nature was infectious. We chatted about the scarcity of swallows, the goldcrest with its yellow crown, and the local dipper and grey wagtail that are found along the stream.

The school is also very involved, and the former principal is on the Tidy Towns committee. These active students have built a solitary bee hotel that is now due for refurbishment.

The hedgerow around the school echoed to the sounds of house sparrows, and the rooks were loud and active in the beech trees.

Upcoming event

An Taisce Living Limerick: Wildlife Safari in Castleconnell will take place July 3 from 2-4pm. Meet at the playground car park. Join Living Limerick as they search for birds, insects and flowers along the riverwalk. Bring your own net and set what creatures you can catch. Suitable for families.

For More or 089 4230502.

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