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Waterford Beekeepers Bring Buzz to Brussels

Brussels was a hive of activity recently as a delegation of the East Waterford Beekeepers’ Association and the Native Irish Honey Bee Society travelled to the EU capital to discuss with EU officials a number of issues concerning the survival of Irish honey producing and native biodiversity. The visit was facilitated by Green MEP Grace O’Sullivan, who was keen to show the apiarists that Brussels was not just a town of bureaucratic drones but an important nest of decision-making and policy

The group swarmed the European institutions from the 23rd to the 25th November just ahead of EU Pollinator Week. 

The honey producers met with four Departments of the European Commission, campaigners from the Green movement in the European Parliament as well as with the International Federation of Beekeepers' Associations, Apimondia. They also met with officials from the Irish Department of Agriculture working at the Irish representative office to the EU. 

Discussions took place on the protection of native Irish bee species, including the forthcoming Native Irish Honey Bee Bill, issues with Ireland’s forestry and agricultural practices that threaten bee species, as well as the so-called EU Breakfast Directive. The EU legislation aims to protect European products such as honey and jam from ‘fake’ versions from third countries. 

MEP Grace O’Sullivan welcomed the delegation: “It is important that Irish beekeepers and producers of honey are able to feed into the conversations that are happening in the EU, especially as we put forward legislation aiming to protect our native biodiversity and local markets. The native Irish honey bee is under serious threat from competing species, and our war on nature has made life even harder for them. It’s time we celebrate Irish native bees and their beekeepers and put them at the centre of decision-making.” 

The East Waterford Beekeeper’s Association was represented by Chairperson Donal Lehane, Anne Marie Fogerty, James Maher, Michael Veale and John Cunningham. They were joined by Chair of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society Loretta Neary, Karin Stierle of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations and fellow beekeeper Eoghan MacGiolla Coda. 

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