“The bee is more honoured than other animals, not because she labours, but because she labours for others.” – St. John Chrysostom There appears to be constant negative attention towards Data Centres from the media in Ireland. Since the benefits of Data Centres are not reported fairly, then It shouldn’t surprise that Data Centre industry initiatives aimed at saving the declining bee population are not mentioned by that same media.
The problem we are facing with bees
Bee pollination contributes to 70% of the world’s crops. The success of our species is dependent on theirs. More than half of Ireland’s bee species have undergone substantial declines in their numbers since 1980. The distribution of 42 species has declined by more than 50%. In 2006 an Irish Bee Red List was published that tells us that 30% of the Irish species are threatened with extinction. Six species are critically endangered, 10 are endangered, and 14 species are vulnerable. Two species have become extinct in Ireland within the last 80 years. One species thought to be extinct was rediscovered in 2012. Ireland has 21 bumblebee species, of which 4 are endangered and 2 are vulnerable. Many factors have been attributed to bee declines, including habitat loss, improper apiary management, pesticide usage, climate change, pests and pathogens, competition among native and introduced bee species, poor nutrition, and other factors. These factors intensify the pressure for survival beyond the adaptability of many species.
The urgent action that is being taken
DCs For Bees is an industry initiative led by Host in Ireland to help save Ireland’s declining bee population. This sub initiative aims to bring the Data Centre Industry together in a way that has never been done before. This initiative gives the people in the Data Centre industry the opportunity to not only make an individual difference but the tools to educate, advocate, create awareness and take action. Host In Ireland and its data centre industry partners are uniting to make a difference by pledging to deliver on actions to make Ireland more pollinator friendly and ensure the survival of our pollinators for future generations.
How the 4 Pillars of DCs for Bees initiative works
DCs for Bees Ambassadors are a key part of our DCs for Bees programme. They exist to advocate, create awareness, and take action through their organisations, their colleagues, their communities and their family & friends. Ambassadors have a genuine interest in biodiversity, the environment and bees and are enthused, to make a real difference. In CAI we are fortunate to have Niall Clarke as our Ambassador who works tirelessly with DC’s for Bees in his community. In his spare time, Niall works with beekeepers and carries out awareness presentations about bees through his sporting organisations. He is always on the lookout for new orchard planting locations to help with the survival of bees.
The DCs for Bees Pollinator Plan has paved the way for us to unite and make a difference. It’s a blueprint for long term action on the decline of bees, and to make a bigger impact. Launched in April 2021, it outlines high impact actions that can be taken by companies and contains useful resources. The Pollinator Plan is a shared plan of action that details concrete steps any business in the data centre ecosystem can take, from the smallest supplier to the largest data landowners. It aims to create awareness and drive real action that can help to reduce, stall, or even reverse the extinction of our bees.
Host In Ireland creates opportunities for our partners to create a lasting and impactful difference to Ireland’s biodiversity. The first Difference Day was in 2019 where 100 people from the data centre industry came together alongside the Native Woodland Trust to change our landscape for the better. 2000 trees were planted across two acres. Host in Ireland worked with two reputable organisations in this space in Ireland to bring this vision to life, The National Biodiversity Data Centre & The Native Woodland Trust. These organisations are leading the way on reversing the worrying trend of population reduction of bees in Ireland through research based, ethical, and indigenous methods. This is an opportunity for our partners who are a regional part of a larger organisation to showcase Ireland and team and highlight how this kind of campaign can be used as a blueprint for other regions.
Orchards in the Community
Orchards In The Community is part of the DCs for Bees initiative with orchards play a key role in providing an early food source for our struggling bees as they emerge from winter. Since its start in the 2021 winter planting season until February 2023, over 2,792 mixed fruit orchards have been planted all over Ireland to help protect the bees and increase pollination. With the support of our partners from the Data Centre and Hosting Community, “homes” for over 1,250 orchards throughout Ireland are being sought in local communities, collectively assisting in the reverse of the decline of Ireland’s Pollinators Working in collaboration with the Irish National Biodiversity Centre.
This project will also enable Ireland for the first time to track concurrent pollination success. Something that is only made possible by planting uniform orchards in multiple locations within the one growing season. Orchards are important habitats. This is because they make ideal homes for thousands of species of flora and fauna, including lichens, fungi, and beetles. Fruit trees blossom early in the year, providing an important food source for our pollinators at the end of winter. The deliberate spacing between trees also lets more sunlight in, which is welcome for flying insects, like butterflies and bees, who need warmth to power their flight muscles. At CAI, one of our foundational principles is to “serve society” as we work for our future.
The CAI Data Center Services Orchard for 2022/23 is planted on the grounds of Scoil Treasa in Dublin, the school Niall Clarke attended, and there was no shortage of little helpers to assist him with planting the Orchard. Accepting the plaque from Michelle Wallace of Host in Ireland on behalf of CAI Data Centre Services is Tom O’Farrell. CAI are looking forward to further participation in this initiative in the future and will be planting a record number of Orchards for the 2023/24 season.
Emerging and Future Trends
Host in Ireland is leading efforts to encourage data centre operators to help boost biodiversity at their sites by making them more hospitable to bees and other pollinators. Stack Infrastructure has installed three beehives at its campus in Milan, Italy adopting three hives that will host nearly 200,000 bees. CyrusOne, whose managing director and EVO Matt Pullen said: “The specific plan of action in the DCs for Bees Pollinator Plan makes it easy to roll out across our company and gives our employees a tangible way to give back to our community.
The initiatives Host In Ireland is encouraging data centre operators to get involved with are simple to do and could make a huge difference.” AWS said it aims to install beehives at their existing site at Cruiserath Road in Dublin to boost sustainability efforts. Beehives installed at nine Meta facilities around the globe house more than 180,000 bees, the team of beekeepers is comprised of volunteers who work at the Clonee Data Center, including full-time employees, contingent workers and vendors. They are responsible for preparing bees and equipment for pollination activities throughout the year, including feeding bees, cleaning, painting, and constructing hives, raising and replacing queen bees, dividing colonies when necessary, and replacing combs. There are 10 bee hives with more than 50,000 bees per hive at the Clonee Data Center and local farmers’ crop yields have increased due to more pollination. We have also received accreditation as a business supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.
CAI Data Centre Services are delighted to be part of such an outstanding industry initiative such as DCs for Bees. It was previously mentioned that it is part of our core values of “We serve society”, another of our core values is “We work for our future”. By taking part in this initiative, CAI is also working for our future as a future without bees is a very bleak prospect.