Cross border cooperation in Monaghan and Armagh reveals the potential of beekeeping.

There are 4,500 acres of apple trees in Northern Ireland, most of them are in County Armagh where the Bramley variety is the most common.

The Bramley can’t pollinate itself, it needs cross pollination, and that’s best done by bees.

It is calculated that one bee hive per hector is required for proper cross pollination. Sean Barrett from Middletown lends sixteen of his hives to Armagh apple growers to do this job.

Beekeepers in counties Monaghan and Armagh, convinced there is unrealised commercial potential in their profession, have decided to do something about it. Funding from a LEADER programme is being used to organise joint training on both sides of the border. The courses offer people an introduction to apiculture and help existing beekeepers to expand.

Lecturer John Gillespie expects to see more people taking up beekeeping as a hobby. One such couple are Desmond and Ann Kane from County Monaghan. Desmond undertook a beekeeping course and is a preliminary member of the North Monaghan Bee Association. Ann loves how bees organise themselves and what they do for the world.

It’s because bees pollinate that we have flowers, we have crops and we have cereals and we have trees.

Expert beekeeper Sean Barrett enjoys the challenge bees present.

Well you’re working with nature, and I think there’s a kind of a challenge there, can you get nature to work for you, and do you work with it, you must work with nature, not against it.

Adge King of the Cavan Monaghan LEADER programme is convinced there is a market for local honey and believes,

The people of this region have the capacity to produce the honey and to meet that market.

Beekeeper Vincent Keiran also sees the potential for bees in the counties of Down, Tyrone, Cavan and Monaghan.

If he’s right, border honey might someday be a familiar sight on the breakfast tables of Ireland.

A ‘Nationwide’ report broadcast on 18 June 1999. The reporter is Alasdair Jackson.