Kepak Cork Environmental Manager and citizen scientist, Ciara Dunphy.

Watergrasshill’s a hive of activity

If Watergrasshill is buzzing all of a sudden, it’s because there’s an extra 100,000 bees in the area.

Kepak Cork has launched an innovative sustainability research initiative aimed at protecting, enhancing, and promoting biodiversity around the Watergrasshill-based factory.

As part of the programme, Kepak will also become home to 100,000 honeybees (Apis mellifera) which will be housed in two hives on site in Watergrasshill this month.

Kepak has designated biodiversity champions at site level who act as citizen scientists to conduct and monitor biodiversity.

At Kepak Cork, citizen scientist Ciara Dunphy has established treatment plots in short and long grass meadows, wildflower and herb beds are being established in the green areas surrounding the plant. The site has also designated two acres of land for native wildflower seeding.

Ciara said: “Bees are the most important pollinator of crops and native plant species in Ireland. A recent study found that bees are worth €53m a year to the economy so they are a key component of our wildlife. We are delighted at Kepak to be playing our part in promoting pollinator activity.”

Purpose of each treatment type:

Long grass

Annual mowing, with the cuttings removed, can increase the variety of plant species in a grassland, providing more potential food sources for pollinating insects, and the lack of frequent disturbance can provide shelter and potential nesting sites.

Short grass

Cut less frequently than amenity grassland, so that plants have a chance to grow and flower, to provide food amongst the grass.

Wildflower

People are often keen to sow seed to provide food and shelter for pollinating insects, and so this treatment will test how easy this is to establish, what grows from such a mix and what resources are provided for the insects.

Herb garden

Another alternative is to grow plants that are useful for people as well as insects, and so this treatment will contain a diversity of herbs.

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