Sneem – counting their bumblebees and their awards

Sharon Evans explains what their 2019 award means to Sneem Tidy Towns

Juanita Browne, All-Ireland Pollinator Plan; Sharon Evans and Jane O’Sullivan, Sneem Tidy Towns, winners of the South and Mid-west regional Pollinator Award 2019, and Dr Una FitzPatrick, National Biodiversity Data Centre.


Sneem Tidy Towns were so thrilled to win a pollinator award again for 2019. Boosted by our All-Ireland Pollinator Plan win last year, our Tidy Towns Working Group have continued to meet regularly.

It was recommended in the Tidy Towns Adjudication Report that we should update our Biodiversity Action Plan. This we completed in April thanks to funding from Kerry County Council’s Community Support Fund. Niamh Ní Dhúill from Natural Kitchen Gardens, toured the village with us in January and gave us some very practical suggestions on how to proceed with areas within the village which were already established and ideas for new wildlife corridors to encourage biodiversity.  

Niamh Ní Dhúill then returned with Ian McGrigor from Gortbrack Organic Farm, this resulted is a very practical working document.  Our €1000 winnings included funding for a visit from Niamh to St. Michael’s National School under the Heritage in Schools Scheme to advise them on implementing the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. We applied to Leader for funding to employ  Ian to help us in developing plans for a Community Orchard with native hedges, nuts and child-friendly berries and an educational wildlife haven in the field beside St. Michael’s church.

Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme workshop in Sneem, 2019

In 2018 we planted our first pollinator-friendly flower bed on the North Square Fair Green. In 2019 we redid an existing bed in the South Square Fair Green to create a second pollinator bed. We also planted wildflower seed in the two beds alongside Sneem Digital Hub. These all flowered and looked wonderful this summer and autumn and more importantly, were full of bees and other pollinating insects. This year, more pollinator-friendly plants were included in window boxes and containers, such as nasturtiums, bidens and bacopa. A special mention to all those who quietly went about tidying, deadheading, watering and weeding, your efforts were greatly appreciated. Thanks as always to Joe Murphy and the CE workers who look after the village so well. 

In April, we invited Dr. Tomás Murray from the National Biodiversity Data Centre to deliver a Bumblebee Monitoring Workshop. This was a fascinating workshop which opened our eyes to the world of bumblebees. We have been working on our identification skills in 2019 with a view to setting up transects and carrying out monthly surveys in 2020 and submitting the results to the National Biodiversity Data Centre as part of the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme.  

One of Sneem’s new pollinator-friendly flower beds

We have been getting familiar with bumblebees in our area.  Two of the most common we see are the white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) and the common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum).  

When trying to identify bumblebees, first look at the tip of the tail, then the thorax.  The white-tailed bumblebee has a white tail and one yellow band on its thorax. The common carder bee has a fluffy ginger thorax. Once you get familiar with these two bumblebees, you might start seeing some with a white tail but two yellow bands on their thorax.  These could be a Heath Bumblebee (Bombus Jonellus) or a Garden Bumblebee (Bombus Hortorum).    

You can tell them apart by looking at their faces – the garden bumblebee has a long horse-shaped face and the heath bumblebee has a short face.  For more information, see the Crash Course on Bumblebee Identification:  or the new interactive course at

Everyone is encouraged to become a Citizen Scientist by submitting sightings to the website. The National Biodiversity Data Centre also have a handy app that you can download on your phone.

Our events for this year’s Biodiversity Week are to include a butterfly monitoring workshop 16th May and a swift survey with Lynda Huxley on 12th and 13th June.

This article was published in our newsletter on the 2019 Local Authority Pollinator Award.

To read the full newsletter, Click here



This special award in the Tidy Towns competition encourages Tidy Towns groups to implement pollinator-friendly actions in their town or village, and is open to all groups who enter the National Tidy Towns competition. The Local Authority Pollinator Award, now in its fifth year, has generous cash prizes – now totalling €10,000, and applicants have also increased their points in the overall competition through actions taken for pollinators.

Local Authority Heritage Officers and Biodiversity Officers initiated and run the award, in partnership with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan team at the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

There has been an amazing reaction to this special award since its launch in 2016, and reading about all the achievements and actions taken for pollinators in towns and villages across the country is truly inspirational. Indeed, over 160 individual towns and villages, from every county, have entered the Pollinator Award, and not only that but according to TidyTowns adjudicators upwards of 80% of all 918 TidyTowns groups are implementing actions for pollinators. All entries are filled with wonderful projects, each improving and creating much-needed habitats for pollinating insects and biodiversity generally.



The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Project Officer position has been funded by SuperValu in 2020.