There’s a new buzz at St Mary’s Park

A BEE sanctuary in St Mary’s Park is serving to bridge the gap between young and old.

From ages four to 70 years, community members at St. Mary’s Park have found a unique hobby in beekeeping.

Set up last September, the new bee sanctuary is one way the St. Mary’s community is positively contributing to the Limerick environment.

“Seventy percent of vegetation would disappear if the bees disappeared,” according to Project Officer, Patrick Kennedy.

The vast majority of plants we need for food rely on bee pollination, so the declining bee population worldwide is a great cause for concern.

The bee sanctuary project at St. Mary’s started with four members and has since increased to 16 members as the interest in bees and the environment grew.

It took two weekends of intensive training for members to be able to work with and handle the bees.

“It is not difficult to work with the bees, it is all about being confident around them,” Patrick said.

“When the bees at the sanctuary start to get used to members, they begin to recognise them, which shows how intelligent they are,” Mr Kennedy added.

The sanctuary is home to the native Irish black bee, with 80,000 bees in a full hive.

There are four beehives altogether, two at St. Mary’s A.I.D. and two at the Men’s Shed at St Mary’s Park.

A full hive produces 20kgs of honey, which is distributed among the 16 members of the bee sanctuary.

The idea of branding and selling St. Mary’s bees honey across Limerick and beyond is in the pipeline.

“We are kicking around with labels and names like ‘the castle’ at the moment for the honey,” Patrick added.

St Mary’s are also growing bee-friendly plants including tomatoes, beans and wild herbs.

The door of the bee sanctuary is decorated with paintings by one of the members of the bee sanctuary.

When you lift the flaps, they give visible access to the beehives, which were built by the local Men’s Shed.

Patrick believes the knowledge members gain from being part of the bee sanctuary will open doors for them, as well as providing a chance for people to meet like-minded members across the community.

“The bee sanctuary is a real outlet for people. It is a place where people can interact and make new and long- lasting friends and have special knowledge of a particular subject which will benefit them in the
future,” he said.

Limerick Voice 2019 newspaper is available today in all copies of the Limerick Leader.

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