Over 3,000 Irish beekeepers are busy harvesting and jarring honey at this time of the year.  

ApisProtect and the Irish Beekeeping organisations want to support Irish beekeepers by highlighting to consumers the importance of supporting local beekeepers and buying local Irish honey. 

ApisProtect, The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’   Associations CLG  and  The Irish Beekeepers’ Association CLG  are celebrating National Honey Month in Ireland this month. This celebration of honey is an annual event in the US and this year will be celebrated for the first time in Ireland. 

At this time of the year, beekeepers are harvesting honey across the country. The honey houses of Ireland are filled with frames ready to extract the honey.  Sterilised jars are sparkling clean and ready to ship honey to local shops and markets around the country. 

The question is, will 2021 be a good year for honey? ApisProtect has developed the first-ever model to assess the meteorological conditions for honey bee foraging in Ireland. Our analysis of the summer of 2021 showed that there was a poor start to the summer for honey bees in Ireland in terms of weather.  

Slow-moving troughs of low pressure over Ireland for much of May led to record rainfalls at stations like Roche’s Point, Co. Cork. Our model showed that meteorological foraging conditions were worse than their long-term average at all of the Met Éireann stations we analysed in May

Conditions improved for the bees in most locations in June, with high pressure dominating our weather for most of the month, with this being reflected in our June analysis. Weather conditions for foraging continued to improve into a scorching July with our model showing that conditions in July 2021 were better everywhere than their 10-year average.

This new research will help beekeepers compare weather conditions for bee activity from month to month and, as it develops further, be correlated with a record of honey production in Ireland. We look forward to finalising the August data as soon as it is released. 

Dr Pádraig Whelan, Chief Science Officer of ApisProtect highlights the importance of supporting Irish honey “Honey is one of the most faked foods in the world, following products such as olive oil and milk. It is often diluted with alternative syrups such as beet syrup or corn syrup. Honey is among the top ten foods in Europe with the highest adulteration rate. Buying local Irish honey is a reliable way of ensuring that you are purchasing non-adulterated honey but one should always inspect the label for information on the origin of the honey.”

Colette O’Connell, PRO and Director of the Irish Beekeepers’ Association CLG  describes the different types of honey available in Ireland “ Honey is the only food produced by insects that is eaten by humans.  Depending on the flora and crops worked by the honey bees, different honey types are harvested; heather honey, lime honey, clover honey, blackberry honey, apple blossom honey, ivy honey etc.  Run and creamed honey is sold in jars; section honey and cut comb honey come straight from the hive to your table, in wooden frames or containers respectively.” 

She highlights the benefits of honey and the importance of supporting Irish beekeepers “All Irish honey is considered “local” honey and is reputed to help with seasonal allergies due to the minuscule pollen particles that remain in unadulterated Irish honey.  Recent research has shown that Irish ivy honey has similar beneficial properties to Manuka honey. Whilst enjoying the variety of honeys produced by Irish honey bees, you are supporting the continuation of the ancient art of apiculture that has existed for many centuries on the island of Ireland.”

We will be sharing interesting honey facts on our Instagram and Facebook pages throughout the month and you can watch this short video on our YouTube channel to learn more about bees and honey production.

Read more about Irish Beekeepers in our recent blog West Cork Honey.

Gearoid Mac Eoin from Mac Eoin Honey Farms, Creagh, Baltimore.

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