I remember the gorgeous smell of the house when my mother was making jam. She would stir the sticky mix with a wooden spoon, enveloped in the sweet, smelling steam as it wafted up from her special jam-making pan. Jam jars would be sterilized and lined up like a military platoon ready for action. “Keep back, you’ll get scalded.” She warned as I leaned in to watch the jam bubbling and to breath in the full, rich, fruity smell that would be the envy of any winery.

I’ve a very exciting year ahead of me this year. Someone with an orchard asked me would I put hives there. I am ridiculously ecstatic at this win-win prospect. Bees can increase a crop yield by 20-30%, not only that, fruit is more succulent when pollinated properly. It’s not only fruit that bees pollinate in Ireland, peppers, courgettes, pumpkins, rapeseed and clover all benefit from pollination by bees. The benefit of pollination insects to the Irish economy was put at €53 million a few years ago. That’s a wonderful service provided by our bees and a win-win for us too as we get the honey from their foraging. I always think that bees are a barometer for the rest of the eco system. If there is a dearth of forage for our bees in a location, then the other pollinators might not be doing so well either. The first All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 has been brilliant for raising awareness as well as for promoting a swath of actions. I’m looking forward to the new version to cover 2021-2025.

I arranged to look at the orchard location as soon as I could. It ticked the boxes for the perfect location for an apiary. Relatively easy to access. Away from a town, city or village. Facing south. Not overshadowed and a windbreak of a high hedge nearby. Firm, dry, level ground. Plenty of forage even when apples are not in blossom. Away for public roads and lanes and bovine. Best of all, the landowner has done a basic course in beekeeping so understands a bit about what is needed. Oh, and there is a shed nearby that I can put equipment in. Happy days. I plan to move hives there just before apple blossom season this year. My bees will be delighted.


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