Ireland’s bee population could nosedive if plans to plant giant electricity pylons go ahead, it has been warned.
Eirgrid plans to build the 60m high structures through a picturesque valley in Cahir, South Tipperary, where the insects meet to mate.
But beekeepers have claimed the electromagnetic fields from the pylons could stop males from finding the queen bees in the area.
Aoife Mac Giolla Coda expressed concerns the project could weaken the colonies and reduce the number of Irish Black honeybees.
She said: “This region is really important because it is a breeding zone for bees. The drones and queens mate up in the air.
“They go to these places called drone congregation areas and they are in the same spots for hundreds of years.
“Any kind of interference with their navigational processes could stop them from finding these breeding zones.
“That’s more our fear – that the queens will be less well mated.
“Less well-mated Queens are inferior quality queens. I don’t think they’ll die off but our fear is that their quality will be compromised.
“It would mean that there would be weaker colonies and a reduction in number. They’d be less productive, less resistant to disease. You need well mated Queens for strong, fit colonies.”
Bee expert Aoife runs the Galtee Honey Farm with her dad Micheal in Cahir, South Tipperary.
She added: “South Tipperary would be one of the best places in Ireland for beekeeping. We send Queen bees in the post to beekeepers across the country.
“That’s why we’ve been making the case that if it affects beekeeping in this area it will have a knock-on affect for the rest of the country because this is one of the main cores of beekeeping.
Paddy Massey, a spokesman for ReThink Pylons, said these plans will ruin our stunning countryside.
He added: “And this €4billion project is technically just another tax on the consumer.
“Ireland could meet the EU emission targets for one tenth of that cost, by converting Moneypoint in Co Clare to biomass, or burning wood pellets.
“Then we wouldn’t need all these wind farms and pylons scattered all over our lovely land.
“Bees are of serious value to our ecology.”
But Eirgrid said in a statement: “Given the number and detail of submissions that we have received on the topic of honeybees we will be including consideration of bees in the scope for the Environmental Impact Statement..as part of the planning permission process.”
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