Fota House is a REALLY OLD house…..It is now over 200 years old!

A family called the Smith-Barrys owned Fota House for 155 years but now it belongs to the Irish Heritage Trust who take special care of the house and its world famous gardens that are full of rare and exotic plants from as far away as the other side of the world! There is also a beautiful Victorian walled garden called ”The Framing Yard”, which was used to grow plants and vegetables for Fota House in the past.

The word ‘Fota’ comes from the Irish language (Gaeilge) ‘fód te’ which means “warm soil”….a link to the plants from warmer parts of the world that grow in the gardens here.

Pollen is a powdery food produced by flowers. It helps baby bees to grow. Bees have special hairs on their body that pollen gets stuck to. When bees carry pollen from one flower to another, it helps the plant to make new seeds.

Our IBCP Wild Bee Lodges are designed to house our Native Irish Black Bees. They are known as “Black bees” but are also sometimes called “Brown Bees”.

Did you know that bees and pollinators are fussy about the flowers they feed on?

Different bees and insects like to feed on different flowers and plants. Generally if a flower has double petals or a large number of petals it is harder for bees to find the nectar inside the flower. Bees and pollinators LOVE long grass because then there are more wild flowers for them to feed on!

For lots more information on flowers, plants and trees that are best for our bee friends, why not check out the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan here.

The Queen bee is the Mom of ALL the bees in the hive – sometimes as many as 50,000 bees in the middle of summer!!!

There is usually only 1 Queen in a hive. The Queen has a special smell that helps all the bees to know what jobs to do in the hive. When the worker bees need a new Queen, they feed one of the eggs a LOT of the bee-baby food known as ”Royal Jelly”. After the Queen bee has mated with the Drone bees, she spends the rest of her life inside the hive laying eggs-sometimes as many as 2,000 eggs in 1 day!!

Did you know…this station is at a Lime (or Linden) Tree, which is described as the Queen of honey plants!

The Drone bees are all male (Boy Bees).

Their main job is to help the Queen to make baby bees. They hang out in a special place called “Drone Congregation Areas” and wait for a Queen Bee to fly there so they can mate with her. Once a Drone bee has mated with a Queen bee, his work is done and he dies.

Have you ever heard of Manuka Honey? It’s made when Honey bees feed on a plant called Manuka Myrtle or Tea Tree. Can you can spot one on your way to the next station?

The Worker Bees are ALL females (Girl Bees) but they cannot have babies.

They have lots of different jobs such as: preparing cells for new eggs, feeding the larvae (baby bees) with pollen, nectar or Royal Jelly, collecting pollen, making honey, filling gaps in the hive with a special bee glue from trees (called “propolis”), foraging (searching for things like food, water and propolis).

Can you see the “Fuschia” plant all along this stone wall? The Fuschia plant originally comes from Central and South America but it is now found in lots of hedgerows all over Ireland and just as well too because the bees LOVE drinking its nectar! (Nectar gives bees energy to keep on buzzing around from flower to flower.)

There is another very tall plant here which bees love, called “Echium Pininana” (try saying that backwards!!) It is a Biennial plant, which means it only flowers every 2 years…. Is this a flowering year??…..Go take a look!

Did you know that trees can provide food for pollinators too?

This tree is a Phellodendron Chinense (fell-o-den-dron chin-en-say)…Wow!..that’s a LOT of syllables!! It always has a LOT of bees in the Summertime. Bees like to gather the resin of some trees. They use this to make propolis (bee glue) which they use to seal any cracks and gaps in their home.

Other good trees for Pollinators in Ireland are: Hazel, Willow, Mahonia and Lime, among others.

In Ireland there are 77 different species of solitary bees!

They don’t live in colonies like honeybees or bumblebees, they live alone or sometimes in small groups of separate nests. Some solitary bees are called “Cuckoo Bees” because they steal the nest of another solitary bee instead of creating their own!

Check this Junior Pollinator Plan for lots more info on solitary bees and how you can help them!

These glasshouses have many examples of plants and flowers that are very good food for bees and other pollinators.

Can you find some of them?

This is a special type of hive which has a window so that you can see the bees as they go about their usual activities. Can you remember the 3 different types of bee that live in a hive?

Buzz around the Information Boards and Observation Hive here, then check out our Fun Quiz below to test your knowledge.

Please tell as many people as you can about the IBCP-Fota Pollinator Trail and all the simple, helpful things that can be done to help our pollinator friends .. we need them as much as they need us!

Have a “Bee-autiful” Day!!

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Now Test your Knowledge!

(click to reveal the answers)

Flowers with fewer petals are generally best as the bees can find the pollen and nectar more easily.

There is usually only 1 Queen Bee in a hive.

Her job is to make lots of new bee babies.

No, a Drone bee cannot lay eggs-his job is to help the Queen make new bee babies.

All Worker Bees are girl bees (females).

Yes, lots of trees produce flowers which are an important source of food for bees (eg. The Amur Cork tree, Willow tree, Sycamore tree….and many more.)

No, some bees are “solitary bees” which means that they like to live by themselves. (Eg: Bumblebees, mining bees, mason bees and many more….)

No, bees prefer some particular flowers, for example; foxglove, wallflower, fuschia, lavender etc. (see for more information)

The special hive with a window is called an ‘Observation Hive’…..(hives don’t normally have windows because bees prefer their hives to be dark and cosy.)