Monaghan born Philip McCabe, who is a well-known beekeeper, is set to take up duty as the President of Apimondia, the world beekeeping federation. Philip has been President of the European Commission for Beekeeping for the past four years. He is also well known in Monaghan in his role as Development Manager of Co Monaghan Citizens Information Service where he has served for the past 15 years.
Speaking on RTE Radio on Sunday last, Philip said that his work as President of the world beekeeping body will focus on redressing the issue of the massive decline in bee numbers worldwide. As honey bees and other types of bees are necessary for the pollination of many food crops it is important for the world food supply that bees are protected. Philip highlighted the overuse of chemicals and GMOs in agriculture as one of the main causes of the loss of bees. This is going to be a big challenge for Philip and for Apimondia, as many countries are not taking sufficient action to address the problem of the loss of bees. As evidence of this, it has just been reported that the Government in the UK has just lifted its ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in agriculture – these chemicals have been found to be a cause of the collapse in bee numbers.
Philip McCabe has also highlighted the importance of bees in the alleviation of poverty in developing countries. ‘Bees for Development’ is an initiative involving people in developing countries being helped to develop beekeeping enterprises. In regard to beekeeping in Ireland, Philip says that there is an increasing interest in keeping bees and this means that bee farmers and experienced beekeepers are busy supplying new colonies of bees to new beekeepers. He also mentioned the potential in Ireland for harvesting pollen from bees, in addition to honey, as there is a good market for pollen products.
This week sees the annual beekeeping summer school taking place in Gormanston, Co Meath. Philip will be busy there, both arranging and delivering lectures and workshops at this well attended event. Philip, who grew up in Newbliss is a third generation beekeeper – his father and grandfather were also beekeepers. He now lives in Termonfeckin where he looks after his own and the bees at the An Grianán centre – the ICA headquarters. As Philip moves to his new role as Apimondia President in September, when he attends its Congress in Daejeon, South Korea, we all wish him every success in what is a prestigious role but also a challenging one.
For further information on beekeeping including local beekeeping groups and becoming a beekeeper see www.irishbeekeeping.ie. On alternative / natural approaches to beekeeping see http://www.bees.ie. For information on ‘Bees for Development’ see www.beesfordevelopment.org.