Bee-Safe Garden Practices

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

In my last post I wrote about the findings of scientists in identifying the world-wide crisis in bee farming and their investigations into why up to 80% of beehives are dying each year.

black-eyed-susans1-400x265  lavender-rows

In this blog I want to share what I have found out about good practices in your garden for maintaining healthy bees that help you produce a bountiful crop. At the end I introduce some flowering plants that will have the bees flocking … er … buzzing!

Natural sprays

Tomato Leaf Spray (from About.com)

Tomato plants, as members of the nightshade family, contain toxic compounds called alkaloids in their leaves. When the leaves of tomato plants are chopped, they release their alkaloids. When the alkaloids are suspended and diluted with water, they make an easy to use spray that is toxic to aphids, but still safe around plants and humans.

Ingredients
  • One to two cups of tomato leaves
  • Two cups of water
  • A strainer or cheesecloth
  • Spray bottle

To make tomato leaf spray, simply soak one to two cups of chopped tomato leaves in two cups of water. Let it steep overnight. To make the spray, strain the leaves out of the liquid using cheesecloth or a fine strainer. Add another one to two cups of water to the liquid and add it to a spray bottle.

To use the tomato leaf spray in your battle against aphids, spray the stems and foliage of the infested plant with the spray, paying special attention to the undersides of leaves, since that is where aphids most commonly congregate. The tomato leaf recipe, above, won’t harm beneficial bugs like ladybirds.

Garlic Oil Spray

Organic gardeners have long relied on garlic as part of their pest-fighting arsenal. Garlic contains sulphur, which, besides being toxic to pests, is also an antibacterial and antifungal agent. The dish soap in this mixture also breaks down the bodies of soft-bodied pests, such as aphids.

Ingredients
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Mineral oil
  • Strainer or cheesecloth
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Spray bottle

Mince or chop 3-4 cloves of garlic finely, and add them to 2tsp of mineral oil. Let this mixture sit for 24 hours. Strain out the garlic pieces, and add the remaining liquid to one pint (600mls) of water. Add one teaspoon of liquid dish soap. This mixture can be stored and diluted as needed. When you need to spray, use two tablespoons of the mixture added to one pint of water in a spray bottle.

To use your garlic oil spray, first test by spraying an inconspicuous part of the plant to see if your mixture harms it at all. If there are no signs of yellowing or other leaf damage after a day or two, it is safe to use. If there is leaf damage, dilute the mixture with more water and try the test again. Once you have determined that it won’t harm your plant, spray the entire plant, paying special attention to the undersides of leaves.

Warning: Garlic oil is a non-selective insecticide, which means that it will kill beneficial insects (such as lady bugs, who are natural predators of aphids) just as easily as it kills the bad guys. It’s best to keep as many beneficials around as possible. This spray should only be used if you haven’t seen any beneficial bugs in your garden.

Rhubarb insecticide Spray

Rhubarb garden spray is an effective spray for controlling aphids and other sucking insects, as it suffocates them. It is excellent for plants such as roses, which tend to suffer from aphid problems.

Ingredients
  • 1kg / 2.2lbs rhubarb leaves (not stems – use the stems for cooking rhubarb for dessert)
  • 2 litres / 67 fl.oz water
  1. Place the rhubarb leaves into a large pot
  2. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes to half an hour
  3. Strain off the leaves
  4. Dilute. The solution should be diluted 1 part solution and 9 parts water; in other words, add 9 litres / 2.3 gallons water to create the spray.

Note: This spray should not be stored but should be used within 24 hours to achieve the best effectiveness.

Feed the bees

Here are some flowers you can plant in your garden to ensure bees have plenty to eat, while you attract them in as pollinators. Try to plant a range that flower at different times of the season from Spring through to Autumn.

bergamot-bee-balm-400x300  black-eyed-susans1-400x265

Bergamot/Bee balm (left) and Black-eyed Susan blooms (right) attract bees

Bee Balm

Bright flowers and a minty fragrance make bergamot (Monarda) plants ideal for perennial borders. Bergamot is known by several other names, including bee balm, monarda and Oswego tea.

Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia

Black eyed Susan plants are drought resistant, self-seeding and grow in a variety of soils. Growing black eyed Susans prefer a neutral soil pH and a full sun to light shade location. They can be propagated from seed heads. Blooms late spring through summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA           lupin-flower-foliage

The flowering currant (left) and Lupin are two old-fashioned bee attracting blooms

Flowering currant

Flowering currant or Currant Ribes (above) is a breath of heaven as Spring warms up. the scent spreads and is a signal to honey bees that nectar is around.

Lupins

Lupins are later bloomers, but can be planted in autumn for winter soil conditioning. Keep a plant or two to flower on over the season and then collect the flower seeds for another blooming.

Penstemon  PurpleConeFlower

Penstemon (above) blooms in Spring and Purple Coneflower later in the season

Penstemon

Penstemon is in the foxglove family and blooms in spring. It grows from 2-5 ft.  and is a robust perennial topped with stalks of clusters of white, tubular, unevenly-lobbed flowers. Inside the flowers are purple lines especially to attract bees.

Purple coneflower Echinacea

A perennial plant with purple petals around a domed spiny centre.  A highly attractive nectar source frequently visited by butterflies and bees.  A good choice for mid-season blooms.

Sage1  pineappleSage

Sages like Variegated Sage (left) and Pineapple Sage have enticing trumpet-like flowers

Here are some other examples of bee-loved garden flowers
  • Basil Ocimum
  • Cotoneaster Cotoneaster
  • English lavender Lavandula
  • Giant hyssop Agastache
  • Globe thistle Echinops
  • Hyssop Hyssopus
  • Marjoram Origanum
  • Rosemary Rosmarinus
  • Wallflower Erysimum
  • Zinnia Zinnia

Visit the the website below for a list of plants to grow in New Zealand for bee fodder.

National Bee Keepers Association

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

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Follow Michelle Obama’s lead in saving honey bees

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

She might be tainted by her connection to a leadership that has not met our hopes, but Michelle Obama is taking a lead in the White House protecting bees.

She has planted a garden with bee fodder. We could do well to follow her example and show our support by signing this rather positive petition.

Sign the Petition Here

If you visit the petition page you’ll also read some of the facts about the appalling decline in bee numbers.

Other ways to inform yourself

HoneyBeesHive

1. View the trailer for:

      More Than Honey – Official Trailer

Then see the film – and take action

2. Watch the documentaries:

BBC Horizon What’s Killing Our Bees A Horizon Special BBC Full Documentary 2013 Full Movie

BBC Documentary Who Killed The Honey Bee

The possible villain?

Contact versus systemic pesticides

Contact pesticides are usually applied to crops after they’ve developed their fruit/leaf growth. These pesticides kill chewing insects. Because they are applied after flowering, bees are less susceptible to them.

Systemic pesticides are applied to the seed. As the plant grows all parts of the plant are affected. When they produce their flowers bees feed as normal. The fear is that the bees are affected by the tainted pollen and nectar.

Scientists are now investigating if low levels of systemic pesticide that a bee might ingest from these pesticides are affecting the bees’ navigation systems so that they cannot find the way home to the hive.

So what else can you do personally?

Stop using pesticides across your garden. Use only natural sprays that discourage non-beneficial insects chewing on your produce after it has developed.  Organic Spraying Oil; Caterpillar control. Here are some ideas on organic, non-harmful products used in the US

  1. Grow on your vegetables until they seed naturally, then gather and use the untreated seed
  2. Join a seed bank or buy seed from reputable organic sources
  3. Ask your neighbours to join you in banning non-organic sprays from their gardens
  4. Grow supplementary food plants for bees, choosing plants that flower at different times of the spring to autumn season
  5. Have a diversity of plants flowering all season. Have several plant species flowering at once planted in clumps.
  6. Plant where bees will visit. Bees visit sunny spots more often.

In my next blog I will bring you some Bee-Safe Garden Practices

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

The science that banishes ‘sweat’

or what’s wrong with ‘sweat’?

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

I look at the array of deodorants in my local supermarket and I’m intrigued by the lengths the industrial scientists have gone to banish smell of sweat, and any hint of its existence. And I’m reminded of the old adage: horses sweat, men perspire and ladies ‘glow’.

shavedArmpitWoman

A gentle glow is all that’s allowed for the fairer sex.

Of course such a saying could only apply to a limited few, because during the time of the birth of that saying working class people did most of the sweating while the idle rich did very little to bring up any sort of glow, except perhaps on a hunt. The lower class and the areas they lived in did reek of body odour, but as everyone reeked pretty much the same as their neighbour, the need to cover a natural body smell was non-existent.

The business of ‘sweat’

Nowadays banishing sweat is big business, despite air conditioning and our sedentary lifestyles.  The chances of our shaved and pampered underarms ever working up a real sweat is just about zilch unless we’re at the gym, or a bundle of nerves prior to giving a speech or presentation. So why the preoccupation with a natural scent?

Deodorants were first brought out as a way of minimising the smell associated with sweat. Some people do smell when their underarms perspire. It’s to do with the bacteria that grows in warm, wet places, and some people grow bacteria quicker than others. Men particularly.

Disguising the appearance of sweat

Then the industry moved on to antiperspirants aimed at stopping us sweating altogether (or at least appearing not to sweat. Now the scientists really got in on the job, combining concoctions of chemicals that disguise the smell of even the sweatiest of men (include national sportspeople in that group). Perspiration running down your face was okay as long as your underarms remained dry. LOL.

SweatyUnderarmsMale

Oh no – the ‘no-no’ patch

Now we have gone one further – the scientists have invented a deodorant/antiperspirant that stops your sweat yellowing your white or black tee shirts.

Avoiding sweat discoloration

I was intrigued to find that Nivea had put out a deodorant/antiperspirant/clothing protector all in one. How could this work, I wondered so I proceded to investigate this, as best I could without being a super-scientist.

First I discovered that they had cleverly disguised where the ingredients were listed. You have to lift a tab indicated by a minute instruction that just about needs a microscope to detect it. I peeled back the label and there they were. What you put on your skin is:

  • Aluminium chlorohydrate isoceteth-20
  • Paraffinum Liquidium
  • Butylene Glycol
  • Glyceryl Isostearate
  • Laureth-7 Citrate,
  • Parfum
  • Palmitamidopropyltrimorium Chloride
  • Propylene Glysol
  • PEG-150 Distearate
  • Lialool
  • Limonene
  • Geraniol

Exploring the ingredients that banish sweat

If you’re like me and all that sounds like gobbledygook, here’s what each of those ingredients do (in lay-woman’s speak). Unless otherwise stated information comes from Wikipedia, which I trust to validate it’s articles.

Aluminium chlorohydrate (isoceteth-20) is one of the most common active ingredients in commercial antiperspirants. The Food and Drug Administration considers the use of aluminium chlorohydrate in antiperspirants to be safe and it is permitted in concentrations up to 25%.

There have, however, been studies that have linked long-term use of antiperspirants to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The trouble is by the time the disease is apparent there is no way of reversing the effects or repudiating the cause.

“Personal care products are potential contributors to the body burden in aluminium and newer evidence has shown that more aluminium is deposited in the outer regions than the inner regions of the breast. But whether differences in the distribution of aluminium are related to higher incidence of tumours in the outer upper region of the breast remains unknown.” – Exley C., Charles L.M., Barr L., Martin C., Polwart A., Darbre P.D. (September 2007). “Aluminium in human breast tissue”. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 101 (9): 1344–6

Paraffinum Liquidum – Parafin wax. Common applications for paraffin wax include lubrication, electrical insulation, and candles. It’s sometimes confused with another petroleum product sometimes called paraffin oil. In Labs paraffin wax is used to impregnate tissue, which shows its potential use in deodorants – it gets in to skin!

Butylene Glycol (or Butanediol) Manufacturers of skin care products use butylene glycol because it can take moisture from the air and retain it. In areas like underarms this is useful when you are trying to ‘absorb sweat’.

“In sensitive individuals, butylene glycol may be irritating to the skin, eyes, and or nasal passages, but it is the least potentially irritating of all the glycols. In addition, since this ingredient is in so many of the products we apply on our skin every day, the concern is that over time, our exposure may be adding up to something that could be potentially harmful to the health of the skin and body. So far, however, scientific studies have shown no harmful effects from the ingredient at current levels and exposures. In fact, this glycol has not been linked to any organ-specific toxicity and is not considered to be carcinogenic, unlike ethylene glycol.” From Ann Marie Gianni’s website.

Glyceryl Isostearate – This chemical is classifed as an emollient. So having taken out moisture with the previous ingredient, this ingredient is added to soften and smooth the skin and prevent it potentially drying out and becoming itchy.

Laureth-7 Citrate is found in eczema and damaged skin treatments. So what is it doing in a deodorant/antiperspirant? Are the manufacturers covering their bases in case another ingredient causes damage?

Palmitamidopropyltrimorium Chloride – Not found in any website I tried, including the US National Institute of standards and technology. Maybe this is the secret ingredient Nivea mentions in its marketing video? Try clicking this link and then selecting How it Works

Propylene Glycol – Basically it lowers the freezing point of any water it’s mixed with. “In general, glycols are non-corrosive, have very low volatility and very low toxicity (however, ethylene glycol is very toxic to humans and many animals).” Wikipedia.

PEG-150 Distearate is a simple thickener often added to shampoos. Wikipedia

The smell ingredients:

Parfum – perfume is unstated

Lialool – is a naturally occurring terpene (a component of plant resin) chemical found in many flowers and spice plants with many commercial applications, the majority of which based on its pleasant scent (floral, with a touch of spiciness). Wikipedia

Limonene is a colourless liquid that has a strong smell of oranges. It is also a terpene. Research into terpenes has found that many of them possess qualities that make them ideal active ingredients as part of natural agricultural pesticides. Wikipedia

Geraniol – is the primary part of rose oil, palmarosa oil, and citronella oil (Java type). It also occurs in small quantities in geranium, lemon, and many other essential oils.

So there you have it 12 ingredients working hard to to keep your armpits sweat free, fragrant and avoiding yellowing of your clothes.

Natural deodorants work with sweat

There are many essential oils, that, combined with a carrier oil, can make your underarms fragrant, but they won’t last for more than a few hours. Our expectation that we can shower in the morning, add a layer of chemicals and party to the small hours odour-free has led to a giant pharmaceutical business. Of course that expectation has been nurtured by that industry because there are mega-bucks to be made.

Much less costly is using a wash cloth to rinse off sweat at breaks during our day and applying talcum, baking soda or even cornflour combined with a few drops of our favourite essential oil. But that recipe doesn’t come with images of glamorous models dancing, arms up exposing hair-free armpits. And it doesn’t make any money for anyone except what you save personally by doing it.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

The onus of proof on fracking and earthquakes

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

I have just read this article posted online on 11th April, 2014:

Ohio Earthquakes Linked To Fracking, A First For Region

Here in New Zealand there is growing concern that fracking could be triggering earthquakes around our coastline. New Zealand lies along the Pacific Rim, and is only an island state as the result of upward pressure of the two plates. Earthquakes, and some very severe ones like the recent Christchurch quake 2011, are a regular fact of life.

Most of the time we don’t feel them and only know they’ve happened when they’re reported in the media or on the websites we check out from time to time. The science of measuring, predicting and identifying the cause of earthquakes is in its infancy, and until more data is available it’s shaky ground to say fracking causes earthquakes. The few related incidents don’t give enough scientific proof that the practice is dangerous for our earth.

Consider these requirements for checking out the validity of research:

Spotting-Bad-Science-v2

Just like the earth was believed to be flat until the Portugese explorer,Ferdinand Megellan, organised the expedition that resulted in the first circumnavigation of the Earth in the 1500s, fracking is at the moment considered a safe and efficient way of discovering deposits of natural gas or oil.  That’s the ‘flat earth’ view.

How long must we wait to find out if there is a ‘provable’ link between the two before we say enough is enough? The many waged war against the hunting of whales; a few lonely voices were raised in defence of bees against the relentless onslaught of pesticides. How close do we have to go in causing earthquakes before we accept the evidence of proof and say instead we won’t do this?

Sometimes waiting too long is tantamount to condoning bad practices.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Keep your home free of oil and SMART meters

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Today I have two topics to write about. The first is a bouquet, the second a brick.

The Bouquet: I find it slightly bizarre, but commendable, that a country actively encouraging research into alternative energy should be the United Arab Emirates. The Zayed Future Energy Prize is awarded each year to Corporations, SMEs, NGOs and international high schools who are seen to be researching or implementing renewable energy options.

Check it out here.

Now what does that tell us about the future of oil?

Oil-free homes and lives are inevitable

It’s generally understood by the world that oil, natural gas and coal (anything that must be mined) is a finite resource. Although there is some renewing of the resource over time, the eons of time it takes to be renewed is far outstripped by the rate in which our oil-dependent world is consuming it. Oil exploration is now reaching into less and less likely and more inaccessible places in a desperate bid to find new fields before the main ones run out. Of course, exploration is not altruistic. Scarcity will drive up prices so investors stand to gain huge profits by discovering one new source of oil or gas.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize is designed to uncover some options to oil energy. The 2014 nominees are in the process of being assessed by a Jury and will be announced in July.  Hopefully from the public acknowledgement by an oil-producing country the oil power mongers will not be able to shutdown the technology. Read More about the nominees here:

But what are the alternatives – electricity?

The Brick:  In the US there are over 5000 alternative energy source patents that have been suppressed.  (See this YouTube posting for referencevery important!) In the meantime, power companies (not just oil-fired generators) have introduced an appliance that could be harming our health irreversibly, and we’re just going along with it without question.

The villain is the SMART meter. SMART meters are being installed world-wide, sold to us as power-price reducing devices that ensure accurate readings of our power consumption. Analogue meters, we are told, are inaccurate.

However, a body of evidence is emerging (supported by many scientists) that SMART meters are dangerous because:

  • They cause chronic illness, such as migraines and cancer (Read about it on the EMF website)
  • They can alter the structure of blood cells in people exposed to them over time (See Take Back Your Power video)
  • They have been shown to cause fires (Read EMF reports) – In New Zealand, 422 fires involved smart meters in 2010.
  • They emit radiation (Read Organic NZ report)

Take Back Your Power

Having just viewed the film Take Back Your Power, I am horrified to realise our domestic power companies are going along with a device that has not been properly tested for safety. More than that, it’s designed to transmit power (radiation) impulses that can be picked up by power companies measuring power usage.  Sounds a great idea. No problems with reading the meter and the company knows when to ramp up supply.

On the other hand, the emission of radiation pulses continues even when the power company is not collecting the data; it continues night and day. And that’s when it starts affecting our health; everyone’s health, not just those who are susceptible to electro-magnetic pulses.

Become SMART about SMART meters

So my plea to you is investigate for yourself, and if you don’t yet have a SMART meter insist that your power supplier respect your wish not to have one. If you do have a SMART meter ask your power supplier to take it out and replace it with an analogue meter – modern alternatives are available. If they won’t comply tell them you are going to change power suppliers. It’s better to reason with them and wear them down than try and find a new supplier, because the new supplier will want to hook up to the existing SMART meter.

I enquired from Contact Energy and their fee for removing an existing SMART meter and replacing it with an analogue one is $110 NZ. I also had the call centre person register on our account that we do not want a SMART meter. She actually offered, so others must be requesting to be SMART meter-free. However, she did say we would receive mail explaining why they’re being installed once they get around to our area. In other words, they won’t take a blind bit of notice of our request to not have one installed and we will have to refuse again.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

US Navy now runs on seawater – celebrate!

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

I just have to share this article from Addicting Info . Org:

It’s just too amazing not to share. So if you don’t want to click on the link above here is a resume of the content:

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

But as Addicting Info writer, Justin Rosario, expresses:

“Curiously, this doesn’t seem to be making much of a splash (no pun intended) on the evening news. Let’s repeat this: The United States Navy has figured out how to turn seawater into fuel and it will cost about the same as gasoline.”

“I expect the GOP to go ballistic over this and try to legislate it out of existence. It’s a threat to their fossil fuel masters because it will cost them trillions in profits. It’s also “green” technology and Republicans will despise it on those grounds alone.”

The benefits are immeasurable, here are two:

  • The process pulls carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas driving Climate Change) out of the ocean, which has just about reached its safe limit for acidity from all of the increased carbon dioxide, which is what is destroying ecosystems like coral reef.
  • Oil rich countries such as the Middle East will no longer be of interest to the US and other major oil-dependent countries so they won’t want to meddle in Middle Eastern politics. There will be less spending on war and more leftover for humanitarian spending on citizens.
  • The use of carbon dioxide as a fuel is a carbon neutral process. The ocean is like a sponge for carbon dioxide in the air and currently has an excess amount dissolved in it. The fuel process pulls carbon dioxide out of the ocean. It’s converted and burned as fuel. This releases the carbon dioxide back into the air which is then reabsorbed by the ocean.

Also read this article from the International Business Times

So get the word out there and make it impossible for the oil giants to squash the technology.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Is science tying itself in knots over ‘proof’

Or: how opinion is able to masquerade as truth

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Let me come totally clean. I am biased. I am biased toward believing that our food resources have been manipulated in the interests of bigger profits. I believe that pesticides and climate change (not necessarily independently) are harming the world as we knew it. However, I am also concerned that science on both sides of various arguments so hung up on double-blind testing that their research stalls on tit-for-tat bickering.

Take this recent report in The Press, Christchurch, from Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014.

The article, by Tim Hunter, describes a “new study into A1 and A2 milk could have profound implications for human health research, says one of its authors, after results suggested A! milk slowed digestion in rates.”

DairyCowsNZ

Above: Typical Friesian dairy herd in New Zealand.

I gave up drinking milk when a number of digestive complaints identified for me that the white liquid was affecting several members of my family. The article attracted my attention because our local milk is bought from a farm running only A2 cows and operated on organic principles, although not registered as an organic farm. I was all prepared to find joy in this report as locals swear by the taste and efficacy of the milk, partly because it’s sold raw at Village Milk.

Bit of background here:

Cows producing A1 beta-casein in their milk are of European origin. They began to be bred into herds about the middle of last century (as I understand) increasing the numbers of dairy cows that carried the mutant gene. “Milks that are free of A1 beta casein include all goat milk, all sheep milk, all pure Asian cattle, and all ‘A2 milk’ from cattle. Human milk is also free of A1 beta-casein.” according to Keith Woodford is Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University in New Zealand.

“A recent paper published in the European Journal of Nutrition provides particularly strong evidence that A1 beta-casein causes gut inflammation and associated immune effects relative to A2 beta-casein. The trials were conducted with rats and, using normal scientific criteria, the results are sufficiently strong that the differences under these research conditions can be described as ‘conclusive’,” Woodford wrote in his Blog: Posts from Keith Woodford.

The new research

The research published in March by scientists from Ag Research, Massey and Lincoln Universities, New Zealand’s highly respected agricultural research universities, compared rats fed on A1 and A2 milk. The scientists found that the A! milk slowed down the digestion of the rats drinking A2 milk.

Woodford, a co-author of the study said the result for A1-fed rats was consistent with “existing observational evidence that A1 is associated with digestive discomfort, bloating, and constipation relative to A2.” He went on to stay that A2 milk could be a useful tool in managing diabetes.

Now I do have Type 2 diabetes but the thought of trying A2 milk as a drink is not one I can entertain. Perhaps I could make it into yoghurt or cheese?

My milk is better than your milk – bollocks

But here we get into into the “they did, they didn’t” arguing of researchers. While Woodward urges that human trials should be set up to see if the rat results are repeatable in humans, Isobel MacNeill, of Dairy Australia, an industry funded organisation working on dairy investment and research projects said the NZ study was not significant. She was quoted by Tim Hunter, as saying:”It’s not indicative of anything that would come out of a human trial. Overall its a weak study with not a great methodology.” Hmm, I wonder where the impartiality of that comment rests? Can you imagine if A1 milk was proved to be bad for you?

But when I read on I find that the A2 study was funded by the New Zealand Government and A2 Milk, an NZX listed company which owns intellectual property rights around A2 milk research and marketing! Oh, so there are suspects both ways. Where’s the independence?

How opinion is able to masquerade as truth

Which brings me back to the title of this Blog: Is science tying itself in knots over ‘proof’?

Must we have winners and losers in such research? Is science getting so hung up on there being only one answer, only one ‘right’ product or one ‘right’ way? How far are commercial interests steering the questions that are researched, and does that mean we get to hear only half the truth?

Some of us are affected by A1 milk, and some of us aren’t. Let those who are affected have easy access to A2 and stop the bickering about what is scientifically-proven research. After all, A2 milk is not going to kill us. How much A2 milk was in the Fonterra shipment to China?

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Little light goes a long way

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Have you seen those pictures taken from space looking back at the Earth? They look beautiful, like the Earth is a jewelled crown. We seem intent on lighting up space with our collective lighting energy.

Are we sending out a message to space? “Here we are. This is a perfect example of how we squander our resources.”

Earth from space

But so much of that energy is wasted on streets with few people in them or lighted while most residents sleep. What we need is targeted light as shown in the video below:

Have you seen this video?

We have the  lighting technology, so why aren’t we using it and spending the saved energy on more important things?

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Life on earth could depend on the honey bee

Will Armageddon be world hunger?

by Heather Sylvawood – Amazon Author

A couple of years ago I noticed that in Spring there were very few bees buzzing around our fruit tree blossoms. The crop was minimal but I put it down to the fact that the trees were young. It happened again this year, with still tiny crops of fruit. In New Zealand the cause may be because of a Varroa Mite that kills off bees in hives.

Bee2

A busy bee that could mean my garden produces food next year

Reacting as I do to bee stings, I normally prune the flower heads off this plant so that I can sit on the deck without fear of a sting. This year I didn’t. In fact, I have rejoiced in the number of honey bees and bumble bees feasting on the nectar. I hope the food they have gathered this autumn will produce a good harvest of worker bees in the spring.

An environmental holocaust?

Alarming news comes from abroad via Ricken Patel of Avaaz that: “Already, there are nowhere near enough honeybees in Europe to pollinate the crops, and in California — the biggest food producer in the US — beekeepers are losing 40% of their bees each year. We’re in the middle of an environmental holocaust that threatens all of us, because without pollination by bees, most plants and ⅓ of our food supply are gone. “

Even scientists are raising the alarm over the trend and say it’s pesticides that are causing the decline in the bee population. This reduction in natural pollination could lead to a world-wide disaster that will hit us quickly. Within years, we could all be facing mass starvation as regularly suffered by African nations.

Pesticides kill all insects including bees

In striving to produce perfect, unblemished fruit and vegetables major producers are expected to apply pesticides. And we shoppers are part of the problem. We pick over the produce and reject any with blemishes. Good food is thrown away because it has the tiniest of marks. Gone are the days when housewives would pick over windfalls and cut out the problems. Now we expect to start with perfect specimens.

GardenBoxes

Could we increasingly see empty sparse gardens?

The problem with pesticides is that they don’t discriminate – if you have six legs, wings and a thorax, you’re the enemy. bang, bang you’re dead. There goes our natural sweetener and the potential productive garden we hope for next year.

But it will also mean mass plantings of plants like peas, beans, pumpkins, lemons and oranges, apples and pears, stone fruit and grapes (oh, there goes our wine crop) will not be pollinated. Add to that the fact that plants like onions, carrots, silverbeet and spinach that produce seed-setting flowers after these plants are left “to go to seed” won’t do so. We’ll have a smaller seed crop to grow the following year. It’s a grim picture.

Reliable research is urgently need to protect bees

The pharmaceutical companies go to great lengths to claim that pesticides are not killing off bees. They spend megabucks in skewed science to “prove” it, but the few scientists and lay people who have been shouting “No. Please listen,” don’t have access to that kind of money. To help, AVAAZ has launched an appeal to concerned members of the public to donate a small amount to fund definitive, totally independent research to show what is killing off our bee population.

Visit the AVAAZ website here to join the movement to find out how to save the bees.

Do your bit locally to protect honey bees

Here are some ways you can help honey bees survive:

  • Stop spraying your flowering plants with pesticides – rejoice when the bees visit
  • Plant flowering and fruiting plants in abundance around your property
  • Talk to your neighbours about making your area a pesticide-free zone
  • If you find a honey bee swarm, call up a local beekeeper, don’t try to exterminate them
  • Avoid de-heading flowering plants until they’ve given local bees a good feed
  • Talk to your council or local body about their spraying policy and lobby to have them remove pesticides from their spraying program
  • Encourage your council or local body to plant reserves and grass verges with flowering shrubs and plants – Yarrow, a common white roadside flower is loved by bees

And just for fun take a look at what could bee our future:

by Heather Sylvawood – Amazon Author