Posts Tagged ‘food’

Love Bees

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

Pollination: ‘a love story that feeds the Earth.’ – Louie Schwartzberg

We can’t survive without bees and bees won’t survive unless we love them. It’s a unique partnership between ‘wild’ creatures and humans: honey bees give us fruit, vegetables, and pastures – we must make sure they have a variety of flowering plants and clean habitats (avoid pesticides, especially neonicotinoids).

Human beings have fabricated the illusion that they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services. – Achim Steiner

 Watch a sweet little film, Dance of the Honey Bee’ (Vimeo).

Everyone loves honey bees…even Daleks:

Honey Bee Science

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Recent research has revealed more amazing honey bee abilities:

  • BeeSweet: Bees can detect electrical signals from flowers which help them identify the flowers with the richest nectar.
  • BeeSpresso: Many flowers have traces of caffeine in their nectar which bees are more attracted to than flowers without.
  • BeeTox: When bees eat honey it detoxifies them by triggering genes that make antibiotic chemicals.
  • BeeFriend: Bees use their right antenna to tell friend from foe – it has more smell-sensing hairs on it than the left antenna.
  • BeeStill: Even non-fatal amounts of pesticides will eventually destroy a beehive. Don’t spray near flowers!

Photo: Brittany beeIMG_4047

A Love Story – Pollination

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

It’s the most important relationship on Earth – everything in Nature depends on pollinators and flowers getting together.

Pollination is ‘a love story that feeds the Earth.’ – Louie Schwartzberg.

For a flower to make fruit and seeds, its pollen (male) must get to an egg (female), usually in another flower – and bees do 80% of the moving. The result is a cornucopia of foods from cherries to cashews, courgettes to coffee. Our relationship with the pollinators is equally vital so let’s provide bees with a variety of flowers, clean water and spray-free gardens.

Scenes from Louie Schwatzberg’s dazzling movie, Wings Of Life:

Origin of Bees

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

New genetic research suggests honey bees originated in Asia not Africa as previously thought. Bees have been around for a while: the oldest known bee is a 100 million year old bee suspended in a piece of amber (a tree resin), found in Myanmar (Burma). Ancient bees lived in trees or on cliffs – honey bees derived from cavity-nesting bees that spread out from Asia about 300,000 years ago. People discovered honey about 20,000 years ago; it must’ve seemed like a magical food in their diet of wild animals and plants. Early honey hunting was a dangerous job because bees lived in tall trees or on cliff faces. Cave paintings show hunters climbing cliffs to raid nests – imagine dangling from a vine, 150 metres up a cliff, while being stung by bees! People still do this kind of honey hunting today in India, Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Image: Rock painting of a honey hunter in Valencia, Spain (6000 to 8000BC)

honeyhunter

Neonicotinoids – A Word Everyone Should Know

Friday, November 1st, 2013

‘Neonicotinoids’ … a clunky word, but one that everybody should know. They (‘neonics’ for short) are the most widely used insecticides in the world – they’re now found in almost every managed landscape from farms to home gardens (and use is increasing rapidly). Neonics are non-targeted (ie.lazy) pest control: they’re usually coated on seeds and the poison stays in the plant as it grows. And the residue can remain in plant tissue, pollen, soil and water for years – it’s these residues that can kill beneficial wildlife: bees, birds, soil creatures and helper insects. That makes neonics a threat to our food supply because:

  • Bees and other pollinators directly provide much of our food
  • Soil creatures (worms, microbes) are vital for soil health
  • Helper insects (predatory and parasitic species) provide natural pest control

Why would we want to harm any of these? The EU has put a two year ban on neonics (because of damage to bees)but they are still used in NZ and are available to the public. Let’s ask garden and hardware shops to stop selling them (Placemakers and The Warehouse have recently withdrawn them) and the EPA to ban them.

Research: neonicotinoids harming honey bees

Report: effect of neonicotinoids on beneficial insects.

The larval stage of a ladybird (right) loves to eat aphids (left) – great natural pest control.

The authority that kicked the beehive

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

ERMA  is the authority that manages the poisons sprayed on our food crops. ‘Manages’ is the weasel word – meaning ‘we tell you the risk, but the choice is yours’. A powerful chemical (clothianidin) that ERMA approves for NZ crops is banned in Europe, and even the US authority was recently warned – by its own scientists – that the chemical is ‘highly toxic to beneficial insects such as honey bees’. Problem is, it’s so persistent it remains in plants through to the pollen stage (especially corn), and in meat and milk.

When I asked ERMA if they would review the chemical in NZ they said they already ‘managed’ the use of it (they tend to be slow to ban poisons). In the end it’s up to us whether we accept pesticide residues in our food (yes, clothianidin is there). But while we have some choice to eat organic, honey bees don’t, and they are already in decline.

Full article: The authority that kicked the beehive (download – pdf)

Bee photo by Sarah Anderson who also writes a beautiful blog.