Galtee Honey Farm is one of the most unique beekeeping establishments in Ireland. It consists of 170 hives of Native Irish Black Honey Bees. These hives are sited in groups called apiaries throughout the Galtee Vee Valley stretching into counties Tipperary, Limerick and Cork. Their bees produce award winning honey and contribute hugely to pollination in their local environment. Galtee Honey Farm provides Native Irish Black queen bees to beekeepers around Ireland every year, to help ensure this important threatened genetic resource is shared.
Galtee Honey Farm was founded in 1970 by Micheál Mac Giolla Coda. His love of bees was fostered as a child by is father Eugene down in his childhood home in Co. Kerry. Micheál was the third generation to continue on the beekeeping tradition. The skills and knowledge he has acquired over the years have been handed down to his children, including his daughter Aoife who officially took over Galtee Honey Farm in 2013. Her children Hannah and Micheál are currently learning about bees and beekeeping.
Micheál is a pioneer in the conservation of the native honeybees of Ireland, (Apis mellifera mellifera) known as ‘Black Bees’ A bee which is under threat due to hybridisation with imported strains of honey bees. In 1991, along with his neighbouring beekeeper, Redmond Williams, he was involved in setting up the first conservation group of its kind, called Galtee Bee Breeding Group, dedicated to protecting and promoting the Native Honey Bee.
Galtee Honey Farm is the main breeder of the Native Irish Black Honey Bee and is still committed to promoting its conservation.
Micheál and Aoife are both certified beekeeping lecturers. They have spent many years teaching beekeeping skills to others through lectures, beginners courses and workshops with local beekeeping clubs. Micheál is a former president of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations (FIBKA) and the Bee Improvement & Bee Breeders Association (BIBBA). They were both involved in the formation of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS) and Aoife is a former Public Relations Officer of NIHBS.
She was once a regular contributor to An Beachaire – the Irish beekeeping journal. Micheál is a qualified honey judge, having judged in honey competitions and shows both nationally and internationally.
Galtee Honey Farm has had many visitors over the years. It has been a base for the Galtee Bee Breeding Group (GBBG) workshops and along with GBBG, carried out the famous Beard of Bees world record attempt with Philip McCabe in 2005.
Over the years, the bees have featured on several TV programmes including ‘Nationwide’, ‘Ear to the Ground’ and ‘Gliondar’ (RTE); ‘Garraí Glas’, ‘Bóithrín na Smaointe’ and ‘Bia Duachais’ (TG4) and Sky News.
Beekeeping for both Micheál and Aoife at Galtee Honey Farm is a vocation and a way of life. And is driven mainly by and urge to protect and nurture honey bees.