The new borders either side of the drive filled with verbena bonariensis, nicotiniana and wild flowers have brought a profusion of butterflies and bees this summer. So many, that as we walk along the gravel in late August, the butterflies lift into the air ahead of us. Red Admirals, peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies in abundance and to a lesser extent six other species associated with meadows and bird’s-foot trefoil flowers – common blue, green-veined white, large white, meadow brown, speckled wood and large skipper. But most surprising to me was the variety of bees in the garden, all quite distinct – red tailed bumble bees, pale brown carder bees, white-tailed bumble bees, honey bees from the hives at Spain nearby and tiny little heath bumble bees. I never realised there were so many varieties, each with a preference for a particular flower. I watched a programme on the BBC recently about the demise of the bee in the USA due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), but it seems that in Ireland the bee population has been largely unaffected, according to an article in the Irish Times reporting research from the University of Limerick http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0512/1224296752943.html. The studies at Limerick have also found that artisan honey is healthier than the blended honey stocked by supermarkets, due to lower levels of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). Here in Baltimore we are fortunate to have our own local artisan honey producer – Mc Eoin’s Honey – summer sunshine in a jar.
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