My property came with a lovely old stone cottage although I’m told it was originally used as a coach house and built around the same time as the house in the 1860’s but no-one seems to know for sure. History, here in South Kerry, seems to be more “anecdotal” than based on facts or anything written down on paper.
One evening I stepped outside my house and noticed something flying above my head only to disappear and come back around again. Then I realised that it was flying too fast to be a bird and must be a bat…and more than one bat. These little “blurs” were whooshing around the house at the speed of light feasting on insects as they went round and around.
I was amazed at how well they navigated themselves at such high speeds between the narrow corridor of the house and nearby trees. I watched for a while and wondered if they might be living inside the house but I didn’t stay long enough to find out.
A couple of evenings later I saw bats leaving the cottage via a small opening just below the roof tiles and then heading over to the house so I knew they were living there and most likely in the attic. I watched again as they headed over to the house before flying around in circles again.
Because these little guys eat insects as they fly through the air its very important we keep as many trees and bushes on our patch of land, as possible – and trees also provide important habitat for bats; it’s where they would have originally evolved, and can still be found today, usually in old forests. and woodland areas.
Bats in Ireland are a protected species and it’s illegal to disturb or remove their nests but of course some do. My own bats have a secure home in the cottage and all I have to do is keep the insect population healthy. I will do my best!
The bats are a welcome addition to my ARK
In July of this year I noticed bees buzzing around a small opening just above a bay window at side of my house. I wondered what they were doing there? They seemed very busy and animated and I wondered if they were doing “a recce” – sussing out a suitable place to live.
I pulled out a jar of local honey and found the bee-keepers name and number and called him right away I asked him if he could take the bees away from my house as they seemed very agitated. He came over right away and I asked him if he could put them in a box and move them to a different location… but after looking at the situation he said “I’m sorry it’s too late to move them – the queen is already inside the house. ” What????
He then told me that they were little black honey bees, native to Ireland, and that if I wanted them removed I could ask pest control to come by, but they would need letter from a bee-keeper saying they were a nuisance and or dangerous and needed to be removed. “Why a letter” I asked? and he said “Because they are a protected species”. Oh!
I didn’t like the idea of poisoning these little creatures but wasn’t sure I wanted them buzzing around the house all day either. Noticing my indecision the bee-keeper said “if you don’t mind them and they’re not bothering you too much you can just leave them there…lots of people here live with bees in their homes.” What?? I’d never heard of such a thing …. people living with bees in their homes? Only in Ireland, I thought to myself.
I thought about if for a while and then reasoned that they weren’t right above the front door or in a high foot traffic area and probably wouldn’t bother anyone at the side of the house, so why not let them stay? I realised as well that there had never been a lot of bees on the property to begin with, and having my own pollinators would be an asset to the ARK, especially since none of the apple trees bore fruit this year. I’d also be helping an endangered species. “Okay” I said, hoping I’d made the right decision `”Let’s leave them alone and let them settle in” He seemed pleased and said “Of course if they become a problem and need to be removed……” I said “I’m sure they’ll be fine ” and then I actually began to feel excited at the thought of “living with bees”. I was also flattered that the Queen Bee had chosen my house as the best location for their new hive.
So, just like the foxes who showed up and reduced the rat population, the bees came in at the right time to help pollinate my ARK.
It’s almost as if Nature has the intelligence to call in specific species – “the rooted and the unrooted” whenever and wherever she feels they are needed. Maybe all natural life is somehow connected and gifted with the knowledge to make intuitive and important decisions to heal the ecosystem when it is out of balance?
I’m going to become a member of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society and Bat Conservation Ireland to find out more about these “mysterious” creatures now they are a part of my life.
You can also find more information on Native Irish honey Bees and Bats in Ireland on the “links” page.