Discovering the Bee Sanctuary of Ireland

We spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon walking the meandering paths of the Bee Sanctuary of Ireland.

Buzzards gliding in the clear blue sky, willow and hazel swaying in the September sunshine, the scent of earth floating on the gentle breeze – the Bee Sanctuary is a balm for the senses, with breathtaking views over the rolling hills of South Wicklow. A haven where nature comes first.


Nous avons passé un dimanche merveilleux à arpenter les chemins sinueux du Sanctuaire des Abeilles d’Irlande.

Des buses qui tournoient dans le ciel d’azur, des saules et noisetiers qui ondulent sous le soleil de septembre, un parfum de fleurs et de terre qui flotte sur la brise légère : le Sanctuaire des Abeilles est un baume pour les sens, avec une vue panoramique sur les collines de Wicklow. C’est un refuge où la nature reprend ses droits.

The lake of the Bee Sanctuary of Ireland has been left to rewild / L’étang est en cours de ré-ensauvagement.

The Bee Sanctuary is home to Clare-Louise and Paul Handrick, a.k.a. “the Bee Guy”, and their four children.

55 acres of organic land dedicated as a sanctuary for Irish native wild bees. It is not a honey farm – there are no hives to be seen. It is instead the only certified vegan organic farm in Ireland, solely dedicated to the preservation of wild bees. Truly a place like no other.


Le sanctuaire appartient à Clare-Louise et Paul Handrick, surnommé le “bee guy” (l’homme aux abeilles), et leurs quatre enfants.

Leurs 22 hectares de terres sont devenus un sanctuaire pour les abeilles sauvages natives d’Irlande. Ce n’est pas une exploitation agricole, ni une miellerie : Paul et Clare-Louise ne sont pas apiculteurs et il n’y a pas de ruches. Le sanctuaire, seule ferme d’Irlande certifiée bio et vegan, est dédié exclusivement à la préservation des abeilles sauvages. Un lieu à nul autre pareil.

What you will see at the Bee Sanctuary of Ireland is field after field of pollinator-friendly plants, all teeming with wildlife. Herons, barn owls and long-eared owls nest in the woodlands bordering the lily-covered lake. Red squirrels, foxes and hedgehogs scurry across the undergrowth. Buzzards, red kites and peregrine falcons circle overhead. Insects dart, hover and crawl, and of course wild bees, humming and buzzing.

Paul points at a timeworn plank of wood lying in the tall grasses by the lake, “It used to be a bench, now it’s a bee nest!”

Leafcutter bees have made it their home, lined with rolled-up pieces of leaf that they cut out of the nearby trees.

There are 77 species of solitary bees in Ireland, 5 of which are leafcutters. This is one of the many bee facts that Paul, a.k.a. The Bee Guy (@the_beeguy) on Twitter, has been sharing daily since the beginning of lockdown in March.


Le sanctuaire déroule champ après champ de plantes propices aux pollinisateurs. Tous débordent de vie, jusque dans les moindres recoins. Des hérons, des chouettes effraies et des hiboux grand-duc nichent dans les bois bordant l’étang couvert de nénuphars. Des écureuils roux, renards et hérissons se cachent dans le sous-bois. Des buses, milans et faucons pélerins virevoltent au-dessus des champs. Des insectes filent, rampent et tourbillonnent. Et bien sûr, des abeilles sauvages, bourdonnant et butinant.

Paul nous montre une planche de bois délabrée à demi-enfouie sous les hautes herbes : “C’était un banc, maintenant c’est un nid d’abeilles !”

Des abeilles coupe-feuille y ont fait leur nid, tapissé de fragments de feuilles qu’elles découpent sur les arbres voisins.

L’Irlande compte 77 espèces d’abeilles solitaires, dont cinq sont des coupe-feuille. Depuis le début du confinement en mars, Paul partage chaque jour sur Twitter un fait sur les abeilles. Vous pouvez le suivre sur le compte @the_beeguy.

How the Bee Sanctuary came to be

Clare-Louise and Paul bought this “typical Irish farm” in 2012. Since then, they have let nature guide them, restoring the fields and rewilding the wetland. Their goal is to have the entire farm in meadows. 

Visitors will then see a living example of “what the land would look like if we were not here”. The Bee Sanctuary is not open to the public at the moment, mostly due to the covid-19 pandemic, but also because Clare-Louise and Paul are still figuring out how to accommodate visitors without disturbing the wildlife.


Clare-Louise et Paul ont acheté cette “ferme typique” en 2012. Sepuis, ils laissent la nature les guider, restaurant la terre et ré-ensauvageant l’étang. Leur objectif ultime est de convertir la ferme tout entière en prairies naturelles.

Les visiteurs du sanctuaire verront alors “à quoi ressemblerait le paysage si nous n’étions pas là”. Le sanctuaire n’est pas encore ouvert au public, principalement à cause du covid, mais aussi parce que Clare-Louise et Paul s’efforcent encore de décider comment accueillir des visiteurs sans déranger la faune.

Paul Handrick, a.k.a the Bee Guy

When the website for the Bee Sanctuary launches, people will be able to support the project by becoming “Friends of the Bees” on a honesty box basis.


Quand le site internet du sanctuaire sera lancé, le public pourra contribuer au projet en devenant “ami des abeilles”.

The Bee Sanctuary of Ireland
Coolafancy
Co Wicklow
Email info@beesanctuary.ie
https://thebeesanctuaryofireland.com/

Instagram @beesanctuaryireland
Facebook @beesanctuaryireland
Twitter @the_beeguy

bigNature – Fighting for nature

“Nature’s in trouble. Trees, hedgerows, rivers, seas, bogs and habitat both in rural and urban settings are being destroyed on a daily basis. Tired of standing by helplessly watching this happen? We are. Enough is enough.
We’re putting a team of people together to advocate without fear on behalf of nature. We need you to sign up to give us a mandate to fight for nature on your behalf. Simply register your support on bigNature. That’s it. You’ve started the push back in defence of nature. Thank you. We’ll keep you posted.”

Earlier this year, Paul and Clare-Louise launched bigNature, a lobby group for nature. Tired and infuriated by the endless onslaught on nature all around the Bee Sanctuary, they launched this new movement at the end of Biodiversity Week, to give nature a voice. 

Of course, I immediately signed up. It is still early days and the covid restrictions haven’t helped, but bigNature is taking shape. Are you in?

bigNature
Coolafancy
Co Wicklow
Email info@big-nature.org
www.big-nature.org

Facebook @bignatureireland
Instagram @bignatureireland

Business will tell you time is money. We say time is nature. And time is running out.

 

This post contains some affiliate links. Should you choose to make a purchase after clicking on one of them, I may receive a small commission and your purchase will help support this site.

 

Short film: Margins : The Bee Guy from Canola Pictures on Vimeo.

 

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