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Fota Pollinator Trail – Station 12

The Observation Hive and IBCP

Take a look at the Observation hive specially designed by the IBCP. It allows you to observe the work of bees as they go about their daily chores.  You may be able to identify the Queen, Drone and Worker bees. Can you remember how the duties of these three castes vary?

You may buy a Solitary Bee lodge here or some garden plants suitable for pollination (subject to availability). 

About the Irish Bee Conservation Project

The Irish Bee Conservation Project (IBCP) was established to provide information to communities regarding bee habitat requirements and to increase the survival of all species of native Irish bees through research, ecology support and biodiversity protection.

The programme began with a research project investigating some of the challenges being encountered by the native Irish honeybee, Apis mellifera mellifera. This initial research project has now expanded into an organisation with four initiatives as the focus of the IBCP.

These initiatives are ResearchHabitat SupportBiodiversity and Education.

The IBCP Project is not affiliated with any beekeeping association or federation, our integral focus being one of conservation.


This aspect of IBCP continues from the initial research described above and is focused on the Varroa mite parasite which is the greatest threat to Ireland’s native honeybee. This study and breeding programme will be entering it’s 5th year at our dedicated research apiaries and laboratory during 2020. Results have been encouraging where selected colonies are now showing tolerance of the Varroa mite through the expression of natural traits contained within the bee’s genome.

Habitat Support

One of the main reasons for the diminishing numbers of certain species of Irish bees have been the reduction in foraging and nesting sites throughout the country. During 2019 the IBCP began a programme to combat this effect and established 20 specially designed “Bee Lodges” to provide shelter and breeding facilities for all species of Irish bees. These lodges were erected in large trees in Fota Wildlife Park and on farms in county Waterford. Wild bees are currently occupying these shelters and will propagate over winter and next year to increase the relevant populations. The target for 2020 is to establish a further 80 lodges in other locations throughout these counties. The Research project will feed directly into Habitat Support as native honeybees with increased Varroa tolerance will have greater survival rates in the wild when introduced to the ‘Bee Lodges’.


Along with the reduction of wild nesting locations across the country the reduction in foraging sites has led to a significant loss of species and range for some Irish bees. The Great Yellow Bumblebee is an example of this where 60 years ago this species was prevalent throughout the country but today it is endangered and found only in certain western counties. The IBCP through an education and networking programme are working to increase floral rich areas which are desirable to our native bee species. This initiative is focussed on creating multiple small areas of floral development in private and public areas and links directly into the Habitat Support initiative. This programme involves liaising with government bodies, businesses, farm groups, community groups, schools, hospitals, universities, eco-groups etc.


IBCP has established a link with the Royal Microscopical Society and the Irish Microscopy Society of Ireland to secure the use of teaching microscope kits which can be brought to schools to introduce students, (both junior and secondary) into microscopy, insect biology and specific aspects of insect biology associated with the life and survival of native Irish bees. These programmes will be carried out by IBCP in association with the teachers who will develop curriculum-based projects such as foraging areas to attract bees and demonstrate how bee pollinators can manipulate and carry the pollen which is necessary for the continued survival of the bees. This initiative will enable the students to visualise the links between the bees they see every day and biology involved in the ongoing survival of these bee species. The added advantage to this education initiative is that the students will encourage their families and friends to support the Biodiversity requirements of our native bee species.

The IBCP Education committee is also responsible for the Pollinator Trail in Fota House.

In summary, the IBCP is working for the survival, protection and proliferation of Ireland’s native bee species. The four elements of our approach are highly integrated and through our growing network of members. We will expand our initiatives from Fota House and Gardens in Cork, and areas in Co. Waterford to throughout the country over the near future.

If you’d like, you can help us continue our work by either making a donation or by buying something from our online shop.

If you’d like to become more involved why not consider becoming a volunteer or a supporter?

What have you learned on the IBCP Fota Pollinator Trail?

Q1. In what year was Fota House built?

Q2. What family was associated with Fota House?

Q3. Where does the name Fota come from?

Q4. Who designed the magnificent gardens at Fota House?

Q5. What body is trusted with the management of Fota House?

Q6. What is meant by Pollination?

Q7. Name the two types of Pollination.  Name two advantages and two disadvantages associated with both of those.

Q8. What is the purpose of the IBCP Bee Boxes at Fota?

Q9. Name two plants good for Pollinators.

Q10. Name two plants not so good for Pollinators.

Q11. Name one shrub that is poisonous to honeybees but not for bumblebees.

Q12. Name one function of the pheromone known as Queen Substance?

Q.13. What is the male honeybee called?

Q14. Identify two differences between the male bee and female bees in the hive.

Q15. In a strong honeybee hive how many bees would it not be unusual to find?

Q16. Can you name three duties performed by a Worker honeybee during its life?

Q17. What is the lifespan of the Worker honeybee (a) in summer and (b) in winter?

Q18. Name on tree in Fota that is teaming with pollinators during the summer?

Q19. How many solitary bee species are there in Ireland?

Q20. How many Bumblebee species are there in Ireland?

Q21. What are the main factors responsible for the decline in Solitary bees?

Q22. What do the letters IBCP stand for?

Q23. What are the objectives of the IBCP?

OPW Office of Public Works logo
Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens, Irish Heritage Trust logo
Irish Bee Conservation Project logo