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"It is critically important for us all to play our part in maintaining and promoting healthy honeybee populations," said junior Agriculture Minister Shane McEntee, when he officially opened the FIBKA Summer School on Sunday. He pointed out that bees have a much more significant role than honey production.

´╗┐Buzzing summer school reflects growing interest in beekeeping

Lectures, practicals and workshops at Gormanston this week cater for a wide range of abilities from beginner to intermediate to advanced. They will be of interest to beekeepers in Ireland, estimated at 2,200, maintaining about 24,000 hives.

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The junior minister welcomed the coming together of FIBKA and the Ulster Nike Foamposite Pro Blue Beekeeper's Association to declare 2011 as the Year of the Honeybee, and to organise the inaugural Apimondia Bee Health Symposium, due to take place in Dublin next March.

the most significant pest affecting honeybees in Ireland. Funding is also provided to the beekeeping sector under the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector. This competitive grant aid scheme funds approved capital investments including those associated with bee breeding facilities and honey production.

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From the European Commission down, there is now an increased focus on the issue of bee health, after significant colony losses in many countries worldwide, often for no identifiable reason. This phenomenon, often termed colony collapse disorder, has prompted researchers from over 50 countries, including Ireland, to come together to form the COLOSS Network.

The State supports the beekeeping/honey sector in two main ways. The National Apiculture three year research programme is largely focused on the varroa mite, which is Nike Mag Colors

Poor summer weather in 2008 and 2009 made conditions particularly difficult for beekeeping, and is one of the reasons why Ireland is heavily reliant on imported honey to meet consumer demand.

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Attracting up to 400 participants each day, it continues to next Friday, at the Franciscan College in Gormanston, Co Meath. Participants can attend for the entire week or just pay for a day at a time.

The association's membership and attendance at the summer school has increased significantly in recent years, reflecting growing interest in bees and beekeeping.

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variation in national honey production, estimated to range from 180 tonnes worth 0.99m in 2008 to 250 tonnes worth 2.75m in 2010.

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He explained that honeybees are thought to be responsible for up to 80% of crop pollination internationally, and are therefore of immense benefit to farmers.

can match the buzz of activity for the past 51 years at the Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Association's (FIBKA) Summer School.

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Under COLOSS, researchers are working together with the common objective of identifying the factors that influence bee health and that may result in colony losses.

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Along with Colony Collapse Disorder, they have to cope with variable weather conditions which have a major impact on the bees' foraging activity. This is the main factor in Nike Basketball Shoes Blue Color

"The real importance of bees lies in their role as pollinators. With this in mind, I welcome the huge interest in the issue of bees and bee health. The fact is, we need bees. The world would not exist in its current form without them."

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