Archive for the ‘Bees’ Category

Flight of the Honey Bee Launch

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

This handsome, respectful volume deserves a place on the shelf … it succeeds in accurately dramatizing honeybee behavior. – Kirkus Reviews

Flight of the Honey Bee review by artist, Claire Beynon:
“Given the state of our environment, the sooner we introduce our children to bees – to their intelligence, their intricate behaviour and increasing vulnerability – the better. Flight of the Honey Bee is the perfect book to do this, combining as it does Raymond  Huber’s careful language and well-researched text with Brian Lovelock’s meticulously observed paintings. Cleverly formatted, fiction and non-fiction – story and fact – are woven together as two discreet yet interconnected strands: young readers can choose their flight path.

Exquisite to look at and a pleasure to explore.

HONEYBEE COVERScout the bee – named after the feisty protagonist in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird – and her tightly-knit community of hardworking bees demonstrate these small creatures’ importance in the pollinaton of plants and the well-being of our planet. Flight of the Honey Bee is about bee behavior but it will also teach children about subtler things; wonder, beauty, the value of group functioning and collaborative effort, reproduction, risk, courage, the joys of flight – those rhythms and principles essential for any thriving community. The hum of the parts.

This book has all the essentials of a satisfying story: it asks questions and it informs. It invites observation and participation. There’s drama. Suspense. Conflict. Danger. Hope. And a happy ending. At the close of her adventure, Scout is a wily-er bee than she was when she set out from her hive on her first nectar-seeking adventure. As all characters must, she grows through her experiences. We come to care about her and her safe passage home.

Visually, Flight of the Honey Bee is exquisite to look at and a pleasure to explore – each double page spread is as stunning as the one preceding it. It will be immediately appealing to young readers. I was struck by how beautifully integrated the text and images are; they belong together like honey and honeycomb. The language is tender and witty (the line about ‘sun-powder’ is a wonderful change from ‘gun-powder’); and the paintings  – a combination of watercolour, acrylic ink and coloured pencils – are spectacular; compositionally bold, delicate, exuberant and information-rich. Looking at them through my adult eyes, I can’t help thinking about fractals, the mathematics inherent in nature, the ever-present background dialogue between shape and sound, pattern and colour.  Children will  pore over them. And they will love Scout for her feisty resourcefulness.

More Flight of the Honey Bee reviews.


Bee Pesticide Ban

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

This is a victory for the precautionary principle, which is supposed to underlie environmental regulation.– Dr Lynn Dicks

Bee PhotoThe EU has banned the nerve agent that has been contributing to honey bee decline around the world. The scientific evidence against these extremely toxic nicotine-based pesticides has grown steadily. Honey bees have contributed to our survival for the past 20,000 years and it’s time we showed them similar courtesy. These banned pesticides are still widely used on NZ crops (eg.corn) and sold to the public in garden centres (eg. the Confidor brand). Bee photo by Sophie Huber.

There are other way to deal with pests without harming bees:

It is high time we returned to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – an approach focussed on minimising pesticide use, maximising the number of biological control agents, using cultural controls such as crop rotations, and monitoring pest numbers so that chemical controls only need be applied when there is a problem.– Prof David Goulson

Poet Bees

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

This beautiful poem by Carol Ann Duffy (extract from The Bees) reminded me of a beautiful photo by Sarah Anderson:

Here are my bees,

brazen, blurs on paper,

besotted; buzzwords, dancing

their flawless, airy maps.

Bees flying

Animal Art

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

After reading Wolfram’s dramatic story I discovered his daughter’s wonderful art. Alexandra Milton is an animal artist and children’s book illustrator. She creates her creatures by collage, using hand-made papers with mysterious names: Korean mingeishi, Thai silk thread, Himalayan khadi, and Payhembury marbled paper. Her honey bee illustration below is warm and characterful (like bees).

I aim to celebrate all that is to be marvelled at in nature; to catch, in colour and form, a glimpse of the miracle of creation Alexandra Milton

5 Ways to Save the Bees

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

The latest on the pesticide threat to bees (see Nicotine Bees) is a small victory: a garden supplier has removed the words ‘low toxic to beneficial insects’ from an advertisement for  Confidor. This pesticide is extremely toxic to the world’s most beneficial insect, the honey bee. These nicotine-based pesticides are banned in Europe because of links to bee deaths. They stay in the plant right through to flowering – so bees are poisoned by pollen, nectar, dust, and water. Latest research shows how the pesticides contribute to the bee crisis by exposing bees from multiple sources. Photo: Sarah Anderson.

5 Ways to Save the Bees:

  1. Avoid chemicals such as Confidor,  Poncho, Advantage, Marathon, Merit and Admire (grotesque names).
  2. Buy local honey.
  3. Grow bee-friendly plants, such as lavender.
  4. Let there be weeds; let the broccoli go to seed.
  5. Put out clean water in a shallow dish.

Book People

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Alone we are one drop, together we are an ocean Ryunosuke Satoro

Honey bees are a super-organism: each one working for the health of the whole. In the same way many people contribute to a book. At the writer’s end: family, friends, writing group, experts, research subjects. At the publishers: editor, proof-reader, designer, publicist, education coordinator, accountant. In the world: distributors, retailers, reviewers, website designer, media, networkers and most importantly, readers. Readers are the book’s power — an unread book will wither like a hive without a queen.

Photo: Swarm by Sarah Anderson

New Bee Book

Friday, July 1st, 2011

My new honey bee novel  for children, Wings, is launched today. It grew from a couple of seeds: the pesticide threat to bees and a fascination with giant hornets (it was almost titled ‘Hornet’). While writing, I learned a lot about character ‘balance’ – they do take on their own life, but you need to nudge them now and them. I had fun with the nasty hornet (Torgo), the loopy acid-bee (Ash), and a puzzle snake (Fang). Hardest part was deciding about the death of a character. I’ve tried to create a gripping tale; and trusting in the power of story (okay, and a good editor) I hope readers will see bees in a new light.

…when reading takes place, that individual brain is forever changed, both physiologically and intellectually. Maryanne Wolf

Nicotine Bees

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

The home garden supplier, Yates, advertises a handy spray-can of pesticide as ‘low toxic to beneficial insects’ and ‘soft on beneficial insects’. Lies. The pesticide is extremely toxic to the world’s most beneficial insect, the honey bee – a nerve poison 7000 times more lethal than DDT. The pesticide (Confidor) contains nicotine-based poisons which are now banned in France, Italy, Germany, and Slovenia, because of links to massive bee deaths.

These nicotine pesticides (‘neonicotinoids’) are widely used on NZ crops and are now available to the public. Labelling them ‘soft’ on pollinators is biting the hand the feeds us. Bees have been our partners for ages– our important foods need bee pollination. Neonicotinoid pesticides are systemic – the whole plant remains toxic right through to flowering. If spray drift doesn’t kill them, bees could be poisoned by pollen, nectar, and drinking water. Even sub-lethal doses weaken bees’ reproduction, immune systems, navigation, and memory.

Government agencies are not restricting neonicotinoids, so we all need to act: suppliers can label honestly; garden shops can warn customers; and gardeners can avoid ‘handy’ poisons.  Neonicotinoids are in these products: Confidor, Advantage, Merit and Admire (what shameless names).

Evidence: Scientific studies/reports; Nicotine Bees (movie); UN Bee Report; EPA Memostudent journalist challenges Yates.

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.