January 25, 2021

Bee special: Real buzz about unusual flower found on WIT campus

There is a great buzz around Waterford Institute of Technology after a rare and unusual plant, usually the victim of lawnmowers blades, sprung up on campus as part of a new pollinator plan.

A bee orchid, so called as it has evolved to resemble a female bee to attract male bees which they were probably once dependent upon for pollination, was discovered on WIT’s main campus by final year Horticulture student Sean Keane, who is originally from Newport in county Mayo.

Sean made this exciting discovery in the first growing season after the college signed up to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, an Ireland-wide scheme aimed to maintain and enhance flower-rich areas to attract and feed the pollinators we depend on. He has been spending his time during the COVID-19 restrictions in Waterford documenting the new wildflower meadow pollinator habitats established by WIT.

“It’s been a sight to be behold for the past number of weeks, with bees, hoverflies, and solitary wasps enjoying the abundant flora.

“This flora includes selfheal, hogweed, red and white clover, common bird’s foot trefoil, greater bird’s foot, germander speedwell, cat’s ear and common knapweed. But the real cherry on top has been the emergence of the beautiful and quite rare, bee orchid.

“The college already had an excellent planting plan including a variety of shrubs and trees providing a wealth of resources for the local pollinators. I’m very proud of my college and the maintenance staff who have made a wonderful start on WIT’s Pollinator plan and given the bee orchid appeared so soon, it’s clear the wildflower meadows are only going to get better year after year,” Sean concluded.



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