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The Bee Keeper

The Bee Keeper

Lynn Fitzpatrick is a neighbour and friend who happens to care greatly about Honey Bees ( the native Irish Black Bee), conservation and Honey production, and  greening in Dublin City. Lynn manages urban rooftop apiaries for both International and Government bodies as part of the Irish, All-Ireland Pollinator Business plan committing all sites to be registered with The Irish Honey Bee Society, each building is now a conservation area for the native Black Bee.

Lynn is a member of Elbana Beekeeping Association in Dublin, FIBKA, The Maltese Beekeeping Association, The Institute of Northern Ireland beekeepers Association and importantly, The Native Irish Honeybee Society.

Eventually I caught up with Lynn (her schedule is very much a busy bee) and asked her questions and insights regarding her beekeeping calling:


John: How and when did you first decide to take up beekeeping?

Lynn: I was visiting a friend, Catherine Cauwell  in the Organic College, Dromcolliher, Limerick. While I was there a lady from Castlemahon  contacted Catherine to say that a swarm of bees had taken up residency in her tree and asked Catherine if she could collect the swarm. I volunteered to help with capturing the swarm and this was my first time in a bee suit!

We got to the tree,  with me stabilising the ladder, Catherine was able to use a bucket to grab as much of the swarm as possible (managing to include the Queen bee) and captured the whole lot and then covering the bucket with a pillowcase! We brought the swarm back to the college and transferred the whole kit and caboodle to a Bee hive on site. That was in May 2013.

I was only meant to stay a few nights and ended up tending the bees for a week. In that first year I visited Catherine and the bees throughout the summer to help and learn from her in the bee site.


John: How and where did you do your training and education in bee keeping?

Lynn: Having helped Catherine in the apiary I enrolled with the Organic College and did an academic study in my preliminary education in year one. In year two I became a member of FIBKA (Federation of Irish Bee Keepers). I then lived on site at the Galtee Honey Farm, Burncourt, Co. Tipperary, processing honey and learning how to rear queens. Studying the art of beekeeping with Michael MacGiollaCoda, and his daughter Aoife, inspired me to work with bees. Micheal was instrumental in establishing not only FIBKA but also the Native Irish Beekeeping Association.

As a member of FIBKA and NIHBS, I was exposed to lectures from many beekeepers with many years experience in the craft. Although some practices may vary, depending on where the are situated in Ireland, all are deeply committed to the preservation of the Native Irish Honeybee. The practise of beekeeping is accepting the everyday is a school day.

When I returned to Dublin and was elected by FIBKA as the ‘Irish Honey Queen’, a role to promote native Irish Black Bees and the richness of Irish honey. During one of my outings, as the Irish honey Queen in County Meath, I met members of UBKA, This led to an invitation by UBKA (Ulster Bee Keepers Association) and a visit to Antrim where I met and stayed with Master Bee Keepers who welcomed me & taught me that the community of beekeepers is Universal. Through them I got the chance to meet up with other Northern Irish bee keepers which was a great honour and experience for me. Many beekeepers in the North have encouraged and supported me through my work.


John: How did you start beekeeping in Dublin?

With the all Ireland Pollinator plan as a template I helped establish an apiary in Dublin 8. As I was now working with bees I registered myself as a beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture. This is a process that I recommend to all would be beekeepers, whether you have two hives or two hundred. This enables the DOA to monitor how many colonies there are in Ireland.

During this time a friend recommended me to an International Property Management Company.The company which I work with is one of the first companies to sign up to the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, which was established in 2015, they have been consistent in their support of the Native Irish honeybee and many of their Dublin based sites are now Conservation Areas for the protection of the Native Irish honeybee.


John: During your first decade bee keeping did you make mistakes or have you had moments when you wanted to cut your losses and say enough is enough?

Lynn: YES YES YES! The work is constant and not every hive makes it through, no matter how much tending you do. Colonies have their own personalities, sometimes they welcome me to tend them, some others will pitch their sound in an aggressive manner to indicate that I’m not welcome that day. We also should look to how our climate is changing, during lean years I feed the honey back to the bees, during abundant years we can reap the rewards and enjoy the primary product of the bees…sweet as honey!!

This beekeeping project aim is to highlight the importance of all sub-species of the honeybee, while not taking away the importance of all pollinators including the many species of solitary bees, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, birds, etc to name of few of the many species of wildlife who contribute not only to our food production but also to the beauty that we as humans, enjoy in the world today.









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