Have you seen the Ivy Bee?

Our Tidy Towns volunteers have been submitting data on insect populations in Greystones, as part of a citizen science initiative led by entomologist Dr. Francis Ratnieks.

You may have seen recently the odd looking sight of people standing very still with clipboards staring at walls covered in ivy. This is because the search for the elusive Ivy Bee is on, led by entomologist Dr. Francis Ratnieks. The Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae) migrated from Britain to set up home in Ireland, with the first sighting made at the Raven Nature Reserve in Wexford by recorder Jim Kenny on the 12th October 2021.

The ivy bee is now present in a large section of coast in Wexford, including Courtown and Kilpatrick beaches. It is also present on the coast in Wicklow centred on Brittas Bay.

The Ivy bee is a solitary bee species and is slightly bigger than a honeybee. It has a ginger thorax and distinct orange/yellow stripes on its abdomen. It feeds mainly on the nectar of Ivy flowers and can be seen from early September to early November when this plant is in bloom.

Ivy is native to Ireland and supports a wide number of pollinators including bees, butterflies, wasps and hoverflies. In the late summer and Autumn months ivy flowers are an essential food source for our pollinators.

For more on the Ivy Bee, including a spotters guide and how to submit a possible sighting, see the Biodiversity Ireland website at: https://biodiversityireland.ie/naturalists-buzzing-as-new-bee-arrives-in-ireland/

For more on Dr. Ratnieks, Ivy, and solitary bee surveying, you can listen to this Radio One interview on Mooney Goes Wild, broadcast 2nd October 2023: https://www.rte.ie/radio/radio1/mooney/programmes/2023/1002/1408611-mooney-goes-wild-monday-2-october-2023/

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