VIDEO: Athlone man's beehive made out of lego!
A beehive which an Athlone schoolteacher and wildlife activist made out of lego has been creating a real buzz since video footage of it was shared online in recent days.
Ruairi O Leocháin of Athlone Wildlife Apiaries decided to make a lego beehive "just for a bit of craic", but a video clip he shared of the bees in their colourful new home has been hugely popular and is about to surpass 100,000 views on Facebook.
"To be honest, I wasn't expecting such a big reaction," he said.
"I have had people getting in touch with me from China, America, and elsewhere saying that they love the idea."
Speaking to the Westmeath Independent this evening (Monday), Ruairi explained that he first thought about making a lego beehive before the Coronavirus lockdown.
"I had the idea before Covid-19, so when that happened I thought I would order a load of lego and see what happens with it. I've been making it bit-by-bit over the last eight weeks or so.
"I shared the video with some beekeeping groups online and I've had a lot of people messaging me asking if I have any plans (for how to make one), because they'd like to try it as well.
"I had to tell them that I didn't have any plans, I basically just had a beehive beside me while I was making it, so I was measuring up everything against the beehive all the time."
He said he now has approximately 30,000 native Irish black bees in the lego hive, and this will increase to between 50,000 and 60,000 at the peak of the summer.
"The bees seem happy out, even though they weren't too sure about it at the start!" he laughed.
Ruairi said the hive is made entirely of lego, and no glue was used in it.
"What the bees will do, given enough time, is they will propolise the whole thing. Propolis is a kind of glue that the bees get from trees, and with any gaps in a beehive, with any wind or air getting through, they will basically put their 'glue' in between to seal it up."
He set up Athlone Wildlife Apiaries to generate honey that he could sell in order to fund his work as a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation volunteer.
"This summer I'll have a good bit of honey, and next year I'll have loads of honey. And it will all be going towards a good cause.
"(The lego beehive) turned out to be a great way of generating publicity for what I'm doing, even though that wasn't why I decided to do it. I've had about €300 in donations from people on the Go Fund Me page over the last few days as well, which is brilliant."
He estimates that he will have helped to bring a total of one million bees into various apiaries in the Athlone area by next month.
"With colony splits, and taking colony losses into account, the aim is to reach three million bees next year and possibly six million bees by the following year. We will need more beekeepers to take on colonies around Athlone by next year," he said.
Members of the public can make a donation to support Ruairi's work through the Go Fund Me page here: https://ie.gofundme.com/f/athlone039s-wildlife-apiaries