OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE FEDERATION OF IRISH BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATIONS (FIBKA) ANNUAL SUMMER COURSE 2016 IN GORMANSTON COLLEGE, CO. MEATH ON SUNDAY 24th JULY 2016.
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak to you this evening and would like to welcome you all to Co Meath. I would like to especially welcome those who are attending from overseas and in particular this year’s guest lecturer Dr.Jamie Ellis who is Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida. Jamie has a long history of work in research and extension in the fields of honey bee husbandry and conservation and ecology and no doubt this year’s Summer School will benefit immensely from Jamie knowledge.
I would like to thank Jamie and all the other lecturers and demonstrators for generously giving of their time and sharing their experiences for the benefit of all.
I would also like to pay tribute to all those involved in organising this year’s Summer Course. The fact that the Federation Summer Course has now run consecutively for 56 years at Gormanston is a real testament to the dedication and skills of all those involved in organising this event. I note that this year marks the 70th Summer Course with the first summer Course held way back in 1947 in UCC. I would like to congratulate the Federation on this achievement and wish you well in your celebrations later in the week.
This dedication and passion is clearly evident by so many people’s actions throughout the year, be it assisting other local beekeepers or volunteering to organise one of the many beekeeping courses around the country. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Federation in promoting and developing beekeeping to a younger generation, having in recent years developed a youth section within the organisation. In particular I would like to take this opportunity to wish Jerome Phair every success in his role as youth officer to encourage more young people to get involved in the craft of beekeeping.
Looking at the vast range of topics to be covered over the next few days at all levels (beginners, intermediate and advanced) together with the number of lecturers involved, this year’s Summer Course will clearly provide a great opportunity for bee-keeping enthusiasts to nurture their craft and develop their skills. This year’s Summer Course will involve over 40 lecturers and demonstrators.
Add to this the National Honey Show, sponsored by Bord Bia, with 44 different classes and it’s no wonder attendance at the Summer Course continues to grow and grow!
I am aware that the season this year has being challenging for the beekeeping sector due to a cold spring followed by a wet summer to date but hopefully the recent good weather will provide a welcome boost to beekeepers.
Irish honey is recognised internationally as a high-quality product that commands premium prices. However while honey is important, bees have a much more important role in pollinating many of our commercial food crops. They also maintain biodiversity in the wild by pollinating wild plants which then provide shelter and food for a wide range of insects and animals. The honey bee is by far the most important insect pollinator in the world.
I would like to draw your attend to the All Ireland Pollinator Plan which was launched in autumn 2015 with the aim of making Ireland pollinator friendly. At its core, the plan hopes to take action by raising awareness of pollinators, how to protect them and provide them with the habitats to flourish. A number of organisations which includes Government Departments and Agencies North and South have come to together to work on the implementation of the plan with the objective of reversing pollinator losses and bringing about a landscape where pollinators can flourish.
The National Apiculture Programme is delivering real benefits through researching the potential and efficacy of alternative varroa treatments under Irish conditions as well as trends in colony losses. I would like to take the opportunity to complement the work carried by Dr Mary Coffey and her team under the current National Apiculture programme which is providing valuable information to assist Irish beekeepers and I know some of the results of this work will be presented here this week.
And to finally conclude, apart from providing an opportunity to develop your beekeeping skills, the Summer Course is a great opportunity to share your experiences and develop contacts with other beekeepers. I am confident the variety and mix of activities planned for the week, together with the facilities available to you here in Gormanston should make this an interesting, informative and a very enjoyable week for you all.
It only remains for me to wish you all the very best and to declare the 2016 Summer Course officially open.