Bees will now be starting to become more active around the countryside, when the weather warms up and plants start to flower.

They will then remain active until the autumn. Therefore, now is the time for farmers to consider how they can help the bees on their farm this spring.

Bees have an important role to play on Irish farms.

They are essential to the health of our environment and economy and ensure that we continue to grow fruit crops, oilseed rape, peas and beans.

By pollinating wildflowers and trees, bees are also responsible for the distinct colours of the Irish landscape, which is a selling point for our agricultural produce.

Declining numbers

Unfortunately, bee numbers are declining, due to several reasons.

Firstly, there is a reduction in wildflowers. Wildflowers are important for bees as pollen provides them with protein, while nectar provides carbohydrates.

The lack of continuity of flowering plants is also an issue. Bees need food all year, so a diversity of flowering plants are needed on farms.

Some of the ways that farmers can help bees this season include leaving space for wildflowers to grow around the farmyard, along farm roadways and in field margins.

These field margins should be fenced off from livestock and should not be sprayed.

Choosing to spray tillage crops with insecticides in early morning and late evening is also beneficial, as this is when honeybees are less active.