Main pic: White clover on a school pitch. (Photo: Karl King www.pollinators.ie)
This summer, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is inviting Donegal schools to help save the bees by taking part in ‘Pitches for Pollinators’.
This campaign aims to help Ireland’s pollinators like wild bees by leaving school pitches unmown over the summer, allowing wildflowers to emerge. These flowers provide a vital food source for pollinators, supplying them with the nectar and pollen they need to survive and raise the next generation.
Pollinators are insects that visit flowers for nectar (for energy) and pollen (for protein). In doing so, they transfer pollen between flowers which brings about fertilization, allowing plants to reproduce.
“On the island of Ireland, 78% of our wild plants are pollinated by insects, mostly wild bees,” a spokesperson for the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan said.
“Around the world, 71% of the crops that provide 90% of the world’s food are pollinated by bees, so we need these important insects to grow the food that keeps us healthy.”
Last year, records submitted to the National Biodiversity Data Centre last year showed that red and white Clover were among the most popular flowers for bees.
“By reducing mowing over the summer, we can encourage plants like these to appear in school pitches.
“During term time, pitches and grassy areas are regularly mown giving children important areas to play. But over the summer holidays we are asking schools to mow less and leave ‘pitches for pollinators’.”
From the end of June until mid-August, leave pitches unmown to allow wildflowers to naturally grow. If this is not possible, consider mowing just once across this period.
“When you do mow, remove the grass cuttings. Native wildflowers grow better in poorer quality soil. By removing the cuttings each summer, you will slowly reduce the soil fertility. This means that each summer the pitches will become more flower-rich for pollinators.”
For further information, log on to www.pollinators.ie