Forage and Agricultural Practice
The area of South Cork where the bees forage is typical agricultural. The main crops include wheat, barley, potatoes, and sugar beet. There is little to be seen of the once common sheep; dairy herds and beef cattle are the only animals seen grazing. Although green pasture are common, up to this year there was little evidence that clover was valued by the farmer; as such the fields were seen essentially as green deserts with little of value for the bee. However, this year surprisingly clover appeared in some of the nearby fields.

Oilseed rape has been seen some miles away; but last year a local farmer planted a small field. The crop was used for cattle fodder as it stood. But the bees found it and used the nectar in the spring build up. This was a lucky break with such poor weather last Spring.

In a normal year it would be hoped that the bees would not store any excess of this nectar in the supers. Resulting in a granulated honey which is more of a nuisance that it is worth.
The photograph shows one of our nearest boreens after severe cutting by a local farmer in July (the Atlantic is in the distance). Place the cursor over the image to see something of the boreen before this cutting.
The photograph shows the area is rich in gorse in early April.
ditch after severe cutting
Protecting Hedges and Ditches

The fields are surrounded by stone walls (ditches) and it is here that the bee finds most of its nectar and pollen. The ditches over the centuries have become overgrown and are valuable wildlife resources, provide habitats for nesting birds, small mammals and countless insects including butterflies, moths, bumble and honey bees.

As well as these there are countless wild flowers growing on these ditches. Bramble being the main source of nectar in the summer for the honeybee. Trees and shrubs which are also valuable nectar and pollen sources include the sycamore, hawthorn, gorse and fuchsia.

With such a wildlife treasure along each road it might be expected that this would be appreciated for what it is in the summertime and the required cutting back only done in the autumn when everything has died back. But no. Some local farmers start this cutting back in July presumably to ensure that things look neat and tidy. The boreen shown on the left, for example, was a joy to behold until a severe 'skelping' took place in July.

It might be noted that the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000 protects hedgerows and section 46 of the Act updates Section 40 of the 1976 Act to provide an increased protection period for them. To quote:
"It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated." and "It shall be an offence for any person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period mentioned [above]".
gorse in early April
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