As the summer season approaches and the holidays are fast coming for tired school communities, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan last year invited schools to join the "Pitches for Pollinators" campaign and contribute to the preservation of Ireland's precious bees. This initiative aims to protect and nurture wild bees by leaving school pitches unmown over the summer, allowing vibrant wildflowers to flourish. These flowers serve as essential food sources, providing the nectar and pollen that pollinators rely on for their survival and the continuation of their species.
Understanding Pollinators and Their Significance:
Pollinators like wild bees play a critical role in our ecosystems. They visit flowers searching for nectar for energy and pollen for protein, inadvertently transferring pollen between flowers and enabling plant reproduction. In Ireland, 78% of our wild plants depend on insect pollination, with wild bees playing a vital role. Globally, 71% of the crops that feed 90% of the world's population rely on bees for pollination. Hence, the well-being of these important insects is crucial for maintaining a healthy food supply.
Challenges Faced by Pollinators and Our Role in Helping Them:
Over one-third of Ireland's wild bee species are at risk of extinction. This decline is primarily attributed to the reduction of habitats providing these bees with food and shelter. Fortunately, there are simple actions we can take to support them, and this is where schools can make a significant impact.
Records from the National Biodiversity Data Centre continually highlight the significance of red and white clover as popular flowers for bees. By reducing mowing activities during the summer, we can encourage the growth of such beneficial plants on school pitches.
Getting Your School Involved:
Between the end of May and mid-August for Post-Primary schools and end of June and mid-August for Primary schools, consider leaving the pitches unmown to allow wildflowers to emerge naturally. If complete avoidance of mowing is not possible, opt for a single mowing session during this period.
When mowing is necessary, be sure to remove the grass cuttings. Native wildflowers thrive in less fertile soil, so removing the cuttings each summer gradually reduces soil fertility. This ongoing process creates increasingly flower-rich pitches for pollinators year after year.
Although the long grass may appear different to us humans, it serves as a sanctuary for numerous flowers that act as lifesavers for our precious insects.
Join the Movement:
Together, let's empower our schools to become beacons of support for pollinators. By participating in the "Pitches for Pollinators" campaign, we can foster a bee-friendly environment and contribute to the preservation of Ireland's remarkable biodiversity. Help create a future where bees thrive, flowers flourish, and our ecosystems remain vibrant and balanced.