“TO bee or not to bee,” was the question posed by Mayor of Clare Joe Arkins following claims that a proposed Burren apiary would cause stampedes, resulting in serious injuries to local farm animals.
A proposal to help NUI Galway and the Native Irish Honey Bee Society create an apiary in the Burren prompted a stinging rebuke from some North Clare councillors at a meeting on Monday.
Councillor Johnny Flynn expressed disappointment if Clare County Council wasn’t in a position to provide between €1,500 and €2,000 over a five-year period to provide an apiary in the Burren out of its overall annual budget of about €110 million.
The Fine Gael councillor pointed out the apiary would play an important role in the conservation, protection and development of a nucleus of native Irish bees in a protected landscape in Clare, such as the Burren.
The honey bee is a very important pollinator of crops, with its pollinators value in Ireland reported at €53m in 2008.
While Councillor Michael Kelly supports the general principle of bee keeping, he stressed it should not be at the expense of farming in the Burren. With over 50 years of experience of farming in the Burren, the Tubber farmer claimed if the apiary goes ahead, it would create a stampede, leading to broken legs and other serious injuries for cattle.
He warned Burren flora needs to be grazed during the summer if it is to flourish and claimed this would not happen if bees were introduced in North Clare.
Wishing the beekeepers every success, he pledged to support Councillor Flynn’s proposal if he found a more suitable site in Ennis.
Councillor Oliver Garry pointed out he had a neighbour who was a beekeeper and never had a problem with his own cattle from his bees.
In fact, the Kildysart councillor recalled the beekeeper came to his aid when he removed a big swarm of bees from his land on one occasion.
Councillor Flynn pointed out the NUIG already has research facilities in the Burren, which he feels is an ideal location for an apiary, due to the low stocking rates. He said he didn’t think the bees would pose any risk to livestock in the Burren.
Councillor Arkins proposed that the two opposing councillors should obtain expert opinion to address the next council meeting.
However, Councillor Kelly wasn’t satisfied with this proposal, arguing that an expert from somewhere like NUIG would support this proposal because they don’t live or have land in the Burren.
Stating beekeeping isn’t an illegal activity, Councillor Arkins still felt this was the best way of dealing with the difference of opinion.