A bill to ban the importation of non-native honey bee species into Ireland passed second stage in the Seanad on Thursday and will now progress for further review by an Oireachtas committee.

To get the bill over the line, members of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS), gathered at Leinster House to demonstrate the importance of maintaining Ireland’s native honey bee population.

Leading the rally, NIHBS chair Aoife Níc Giolla Coda said the bill introduced by Senator Vincent Martin had “no opposition”.

She warned that non-native bee imports increased by 327% between 2019 and 2021 and said that this is having a “massive negative impact” on the genetic conservation of Ireland’s native bees through hybridisation.

She said those buying these bees are trying to do good but by buying imported, non-native bees, they are doing more harm.

Native honey bee

Ireland’s native honey bee, known as the dark European honey bee, is now virtually extinct in mainland Europe, with the largest population remaining in Ireland.

Níc Giolla Coda said Thursday’s rally was also about educating people about the challenges for the species.