This blog documents the story of the Bee Limerick Group and their quest to introduce honey bees back into the city centre of Limerick. Bee Limerick along with its partners are also involved in planting native Irish flowers, shrubs and trees to create a resilient urban ecology.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Published Article ‘Enhancing communities and linking city biodiversity’

The following article was published in the Four Seasons quarterly colour magazine with topical information on Irish beekeeping
Limerick City Biodiversity Project

‘Enhancing communities and linking city biodiversity’

This project involved planting wildflower meadows of high biodiversity values in the Regeneration and Rapid designated areas of Limerick City to establish a linked up city-wide biodiversity network.

Urban planted areas are often prone to vandalism with great expense to the local authorities. So from the very beginning the project was run in partnership with community centres with the aim of engaging the whole community in active participation in the design, seeding  and management of biodiversity areas.  Community involvement and ownership helped create a sense of pride of place, collective achievement and community well-being.

A hive of Irish honey bees Apis melifera meliferia was brought into the city and centrally located to easily pollinate all newly planted biodiversity areas. In this way the bee became the symbol of social connection between all project parts across the city. The value of honey bees as natures great pollinators was emphasized as was the importance of creating biodiversity areas to help them thrive. This gave the project a sense of purpose especially among the many primary and secondary schools that participated in the planting.  Harvesting Limerick City honey is a tangible benefit to supporting bees and highlights the symbotic relationship neccessary between nature and people to build more resilient communities.

Wet weather and low sunshine hours delayed budburst throughout the summer especially among sun loving plants like the ox eye daisy, poppy and corn flower. However a spell of warm weather in September brough a spurt in growth and a welcome splash of vibrant colour. Plants continued to bloom throughout September, October and into November.

Long Term benefits

A community planting project can focus on both ecologically and commercially productive plants. Fruiting and flowering plants that benefit nature and enhance the look of an area can also be partially harvested to serve  community led local enterprises and trade. As well as the four wild flower meadows planted in 2012, a commercial orchard and a heritage orchard are being planted with the aim of producing Limerick City apple juice. Each apple tree will be adopted by a community member.

This project shows how people and nature can coexist and be mutually beneficial. Empowering community to plant biodiversity areas locally may have national significance in helping our honey bee thrive.

This project was developed by Diarmuid Neilan and supported by the Limerick Regeneration Agency, Limerick City Council and Paul Partnership.

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