All about bottles, bees, and bubbles at Ballygowan

Managing Director of Britvic Ireland Kevin Donnelly, John Greenaway, NIHBS and Cathy Cooper, Ballygowan Beekeeper as, Ballygowan’s Newcastle West facility becomes an official Area of Conservation for the native black honey bee. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

IT’S all about the bottles, the bubbles, and the bees in Newcastle West as Britvic Ireland has announced that its Ballygowan facility in County Limerick has become an official Area of Conservation for the Native Irish Honey Bee.

The commitment fell on World Bee Day (May 20), which aims to raise awareness on the importance of pollinators and their contribution to sustainable development and makes Ballygowan the only bottled water company in Ireland to create such a buzzing haven with the National Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS).

The Newcastle West site is the biggest industry in Limerick to have a conservation area that boasts over 40 acres of protected land, part of which is used to house five Native Irish Honey Bee colonies as part of the Area of Conservation for the species.

The Native Irish Honey Bee plays a critical role in the pollination of plants and crops, however research published by University of Galway in 2023 found that the levels of the native black honeybee are in stark decline due to cross-breeding with non-native imports.

To support the Native Irish Honey Bee’s survival and prosperity in the Area of Conservation, Britvic Ireland expanded long flowering meadows on the Newcastle West site from just over 2,700 sq/m to nearly 23,000 in 2022 and has allowed all meadows to grow year-round with overgrown shrubs cut back to enable fresh growth and wildflower development.

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Kevin Donnelly, Britvic Ireland managing director, said that “without key pollinators, we would be without the fruits and flavours that are carefully crafted into some of our best loved products”.

“With this certification, we make another step of progress in our biodiversity commitment, with Ballygowan now recognised as the only bottled water company in Ireland that has committed to being an Area of Conservation with the NIHBS, which we are very proud of.”

Britvic Ireland is also running several beekeeping classes at the five honeybee colonies at Newcastle West and will provide educational and wellbeing programmes across its workforce.

Britvic will also be delivering Ballygowan observation hives to local schools and the wider community in an effort to extend awareness on the importance of the Native Irish Honey Bee.