New Bees in Carnfunnock

Carnfunnock Country Park buzzing with biodiversity

bee3Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has joined forces with a specialist conservation group and introduced a new managed bee colony to Carnfunnock Country Park. Working in partnership with the East Antrim Bee Keepers Association (EABKA), Mid and East Antrim Borough Council believes the move will make a significant contribution to biodiversity in the Borough.

Councillor Billy Ashe, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough said: “We’re

Bee Keeping members
Rev Stephen Robinson, Secretary of the East Antrim Bee Keepers Association (EABKA) is pictured with EABKA colleagues, staff from Carnfunnock and the Mayor Councillor Billy Ashe as he prepares to meet the Native Irish Honeybees.

delighted to support the East Antrim Bee Keepers Association with this new initiative and to welcome these flying friends. The introduction of bee hives and promotion of local honey bees within Carnfunnock Country Park will significantly contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in the Mid and East Antrim Area. “Bees not only pollinate crops, they also help maintain the diversity of wildflowers we have, and the Carnfunnock bees will help maintain some of the spectacular wildflowers we have in the Borough. The influence of honey bees is much greater than just producing honey,” Cllr Ashe continued.

“Bees and other pollinators have a positive effect on birds and mammals that rely on the fruits and seeds produced by our native plants, and they promote other insects, including those beneficial ones that attack crop pests. Bees are an immediately recognisable feature of flower rich areas, and by protecting and promoting bees and their habitats, we’re not only protecting them but our wider biodiversity as well,” he said.

Honey Bees at hive
Domestic honey bee

Rev Stephen Robinson, Secretary of the East Antrim Bee Keepers Association, said the move is important for biodiversity and also that the public have nothing to fear from these creatures: “The bees we’re introducing are an East Antrim-bred line of apis melifera melifera (Native Irish Honeybee) and are a very docile strain. As Irish pollinators are in decline, it’s important we take measures – such as the establishment of new native honey bee colonies – to address this and avoid consequences for our food sustainability, as well as local biodiversity. East Antrim Beekeepers Association welcomes this biodiversity partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and hopes the Carnfunnock Apiary will be the first of many strategically placed, managed honeybee colonies on sites within the Council area.”


  1. In the last year, 14.5% of honey bee colonies have been lost nationally, twice the level needed to sustain the population.
  2. Honey bees are threatened by multiple diseases, parasitic mites, the implications of climate change and lack of diverse habitats for their food supply.
  3. The number of managed honey bee colonies declined by 53% between 1985 and 2005, and meadowlands across the country have dropped by a staggering 97% since the 1930s. A lot of farmland is now “green desert” because of the loss of wildflower verge and hedgerows as bees can’t forage on grassland.
  4. Today, there are no ‘wild’ colonies left in Northern Ireland. Any swarms that appear now are from managed stocks and if left in the wild will perish within 1-2 years due to disease so it’s very important that new managed stocks are introduced.
  5. EABKA is one of the oldest bee keeping associations in Northern Ireland (1941) with members ranging from teenagers to elderly men and women, keeping bees across East Antrim from Glenarm to Greenisland.
  6. EABKA meets the third Thursday of the month in Ballycarry Community Centre at 8pm and new members are always welcome.
  7. They plan to run a Beginners Beekeeping Course lasting 10 weeks over the winter months.  Website is  DARD estimates that there are 3,000 beekeepers in the Republic of Ireland and 700 in Northern Ireland, who keep hives of bees and produce honey.
  8. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has a statutory duty to protect and enhance biodiversity in the Borough and this will be complementary to the Mid and East Antrim local Biodiversity Action Plan.
  9. For Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Media enquiries, please contact: Brian McCalden, Communications & Engagement Coordinator, Tel: 028 2563 5041 or Louise Kennedy, Change Manager, Tel: 028 2563 5043. Mob: 07808106270.

Larne Town Hall European Heritage open Day 12 September 2015

poster for European Heritage Open Day
European Heritage Open Day

Historic Larne Town Hall features in European Heritage Open Days

As part of the 2015 European Heritage Open Days (EHOD), Larne Town Hall is opening its doors to the public next weekend. The Victorian building in Upper Cross Street will be open for everyone to call in and visit on Saturday 12 September between 10.30am and 3.30pm. Larne’s McGarel Town Hall is a high Victorian Gothic building with a clock tower. It is listed as a grade B+ building due to its architectural merit and individual design. Charles McGarel – a highly successful sugar trader from Larne – proposed a lasting legacy, the McGarel Town Hall. BStained Glass Windowuilding work commenced in 1869 and the completed building was officially handed over to community trustees in August 1870 at a celebratory banquet attended by 150 guests. It was extensively refurbished by Larne Borough Council in 2012 and is now managed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for all the people of the Borough. The building provides two large public rooms, The McGarel Hall and the Wilson Room as well as the Mayor’s Parlour; all these facilities will be open to view and information about the history and refurbishment of the building will be provided.

There is no need to book and there will be light refreshments available for visitors.

Larne’s Dixon Park Gets Green Flag

Larne Dixon Park Gets Green Flag
Larne Dixon Park Gets Green Flag

Mayor praises parks’ staff and community supporters as Green flag raised over Larne’s Dixon Park

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council recently welcomed the quadruple award of a prestigious ‘Green Flag’ for all its entries in the UK-wide environmental scheme. Now Larne staff and community supporters have been praised for their efforts in achieving the prestigious accolade for Dixon Park.

The Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe, has personally met staff and volunteers to convey his appreciation. He is pictured here with Parks Manager Ben Simon, local residents including Ann Marshall, Chair of the Resident’s Association, and Alphonsus McIllwaine who maintains the site, as they prepare to fly the flag at the popular location.

Cllr Ashe said: “The hard work, professionalism and dedication of the staff – and supporters in the community – has paid off in the award of the Green flag.” The Mayor added: “This also visibly demonstrates to the local community and councillors that the sites are being well-managed for the benefit of the local community and local wildlife. We were awarded the Green Flag across Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead; Bashfordsland Wood/Oakfield Glen, Carrickfergus, People’s Park, Ballymena  and of course, Dixon Park, Larne. “Dixon Park originally received the Green Flag in 2012, making it the first park in Mid and East Antrim Borough to have this award, and local parks staff and the Dixon Park Resident’s Association are keen that this beautiful community park continues to flourish and to be at the forefront of new developments. “The more Green Flag Awards a local authority has, the more it demonstrates best value for the council and the local community,” he said, adding that it is also a great attraction for tourism.