Bees at Solas

Bee numbers across Ireland have been on the decline since the early 80's with close to a 50% reduction in the bee population
The main factors effecting bee numbers have been lost of habitat due to urban developments & intensive farming practices & the increased use of harmful insecticides in farming & horticulture

Bees account for 80% of all pollination in the wild. They are responsible for pollinating our garden plants, wildflower, fruit trees & bushes, even crops & vegetables in our allotments. The remaining 20% of pollination is performed by wind, birds & bats. Without the hard work of bees we would have no flowering plants & our food yields would likely drop by 80%

Here at Solas we want to do what we can to reverse the trend of plummeting bee numbers. In our 22,000 Sq.Ft. garden shop we only sell organic & natural garden pest control products & feeds. We promote the use of native Irish plants & flowers including of Irish wildflower seed mixes & our pollinator friendly plants on sale in our greenhouse. Below is a selection of our top bee friendly plants that you can plant today in your own garden

Last autumn we installed 3 bee hives at Solas, (2 National Hives & 1 Commercial). On the 2nd of October we introduced 10,000 Native Irish Black Bee to the lower hive body of the middle hive. By the end of this summer in 2022 we hope to have increased numbers to 90,000 bees. This can be achieved only when each hive produces a new, additional queen. At this point we need to carefully split the swarm into a new hive body. Each Hive body can sustain around 30,000 bees.

National Hives: These hives are small, lighter, & easier to handle
Commercial: These are popular as they allow for greater honey yields

Caring for our bees
At the moment our bees are in hibernation & will slowly come out of hibernation in April
Once our bees come out of hibernation, we need to inspect the hive weekly for signs of swapping & Queen production. Once a new Queen is produced we will mark the Queen & split the hive
During the months of August to October, we will also need to feed the hives as there is a lack of pollen freely available in the wild. We feed our hives by adding sugar syrup & fondant

Some planting tips to attract bees to your garden

Create a wildflower meadow with native flowers such as Cornflower, Yarrow, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Corn Marigold, Corn Poppy, Corncockle, Cowslip, Devil's Bit Scabious, Field Scabious, Fleabane, Foxglove & more
Plant native plants & keep native hedgerows by planting whitethorn, blackthorn, willow, wild rose, guelder rose & elder
Create a nectar patch by planting big showy flowers such as Buddehlia, Echinacea, Foxgloves, Rudbeckia & more
Think of winter flowering plants such as Mahonia, Ivies, Hellebores, Cyclamen & Willow

Phase one of our solar project is now complete & we are happy to say that 20% of our current power usage is now powered through clean energy

How to have achieved 20% Solar Power acquisition 
Our €40,000 investment for the supply & install of 3 * 11KW solar arrays covering the tops of 2 x 40ft shipping containers with an additional block of panels positioned on the roof of our 22,00Sq Ft warehouse
This phase was completed early 2022
Pay back period is expected to be 6 years

Future projects 
To commence June 2022   
An additional 115,000€ investment to supply & install 4 * 39KW solar Arrays
These additional panels will cover the entire roof surface area of our remaining 40ft containers 

Latest art installation at Solas

Check out our local tourist maps of Portarlington and of Laois and surrounds in our revamped food court here in Portarlington

Fantastic work again by @adwart

The Mural extends along the inside of a recycled 40ft container
It can be viewed by guests of our food court
The map includes a host of places of interest & tourist attractions around Laois & surround

Places included on the maps
The Heritage Hotel
Slieve blooms
Portarlington Leisure Centre
Mountmellick Museum
Ballyfin Demesne
Castle Durrow
Lough Boora Park
Abbeyleix Bog
Heywood Gardens
Emo Court
Rocks of Dunamaise
Ballykilcavan Bewery
Timahoe Heritage Centre
Donaghmore Work House Museum
Garryhinch Woods
Midlands Park Hotel
The Killeshin