Don’t be overwhelmed by environmental issues

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Just had an email from a good friend who said: “There are no end of things we have to fight against and for these days”. And it does feel overwhelming if you’ve subscribed to receive newsletters and email announcement from various social campaign groups. More and more issues are emerging because social media is connecting us.

World environmental problems overwhelm us

How easy would it be to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s problems? How easy it would be to feel we have to fight every unethical company in the world? We assume it would be near impossible for one individual to make a difference – but is the answer to sink into lethargy?

Taking ethical action

The reality is that individuals are taking ethical action. They’re not taking on the world or ALL the big corporations who act unethically, without regard to the citizens of the world. They’re taking on one issue and acting on that.

Let’s look at some of the groups I personally know about which stand for a more ethical future :

Project Jonah – Whale rescue teams training others to act quickly whenever there is a whale stranding. They also speak out about issues that are becoming apparent for these amazing sea-going mammals.

The Sum Of Us –  a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy.

Upworthy – a social media site with a focus on entertaining and enlightening. For those enrolled to receive notifications expect a steady stream of links that could shock or enlighten.  Because it’s shareable, ethical and enlightening stuff Upworthy is enabling us to  spread the word.

Greenpeace – The environmental movement that has been actively defying nations in its determination to stop environmental degradation of ecologically vulnerable areas, wildlife and peoples. Although there was no one founder (five people are given credit on the web page) the over-arching philosophy is: ‘Greenpeace exists because this fragile Earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action!’ The group has received varying reviews because of its members’ determination to be heard and its startling tactics.

Causes – This is the place to discover, support and organize campaigns, fundraisers, and petitions around the issues that impact you and your community. From fundraising for individuals who need support for life-saving operations to petitions about child-abuse or to stop GMO production, the topics are diverse but always about an ethical issue facing the world populations.

Revealing ethical or environmental stories

Each of the above groups were started by friends/acquaintances with the similar views – individuals who recognised that alone they could do little to cause change, but together they could use social media/the Internet to educate and join forces with millions.

They were activists. They had the courage to step outside of their comfort zones and be counted. They stopped fearing that they would be ridiculed for having an absurd idea. They stopped listening to the naysayers and the disbelievers. They felt the fear and did it anyway.

Safeguards against suppressing information

The Internet, in fact, was the key to getting the ‘other story’ out to the millions who had always believed the ‘official version’.  Why do you think that totalitarian states want to shutdown or censor internet access to their populations? Why do governments (even so-called democracies) try to counteract breaking stories about unethical activity by putting a new ‘spin’ on the stories?

Note: The word ‘spin doctor’ is only a recent addition to our language – it wasn’t in my Pocket Oxford of 1975 or even in my Collins Concise in 1995.

No group of worthy causes would be complete with out mention of Wikimedia which was founded in 2003 by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, as a way to fund Wikipedia and its sister projects through non-profit means. Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched Wikipedia on January 15, 2001. Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, has become one of the most visited sites for verification of information. Because of its policy that information can be edited and updated by anyone, the chances that information can be suppressed is greatly reduced.

Changing the standards you live by

Many people have felt the fear and taken a step into the unknown with an ethical idea. Here are a couple:

Snap Judgement – jointly founded by Glynn Washington – Host & Executive Producer and Mark Ristich – Executive Producer, Snap Judgement aims to bring ‘community’ back into community radio at a time when most home-grown shows are struggling to survive. According to the show’s website: before creating the Snap Judgment radio show, ‘Glynn worked as an educator, diplomat, community activist, actor, political strategist, fist-shaker, mountain-hollerer, and foot stomper’. Boy, does the World need plenty of those!

The Secret – Many of you will know about Australian Rhonda Byrne and her life-changing film The Secret. Not only did Rhonda turn her whole life around, she and her writing have brought a new positive outlook to many. Critics claim that the people she has influenced are being deluded. According to the website: Skeptoid “The “secret” turns out to be nothing more than the old motivational speaker’s standby, that positive thinking leads to positive results.” However, if millions of people are feeling happier through applying her ‘discoveries’ won’t that lift the collective energy and inspire more of us to step outside our comfort zones and help others?

Taking personal ethical action

When an email arrives in our inbox urging us to act on behalf of some cause, what happens to us:

  • We feel concerned/annoyed/uncomfortable
  • We might feel embarrassed by what our friends will think of us if we take action or pass on the information
  • We pick and choose who we’ll share it with
  • We wonder if our account is being monitored by the Secret Service and whether we’re risking promotion/economic survival if we speak out

That’s pretty much where I was a few months ago. But recently I’ve decided: “What the heck. These issues are too important to be ignored.” I’m also heartened at the number of people who ‘Like’ what I stand for and are brave enough to ‘Share’. That says to me there is a ground swell of concerned citizens of the World who are based in love and want to protect what is precious no matter what the cost.

An example of personal action

I’m going to end this post with a lovely example of two men who are taking personal action. It is a story that shows you don’t have to reach the world to take environmental action, but you can make a profound difference.

The story from China comes via another social sharing site: Bored Panda. Disabled pair plant 10,000 trees in China.

So whatever you do, whether its visit a sick neighbour, singing in church, writing a book or starting a world movement, YOU are contributing to a better world.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Who’s in charge of the US?

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Russia is not flavour of the month, if we’re to believe all we hear about its involvement in the Ukraine. In one area of life, however, this country is taking a lead.

No to GMO

Russia has made a stand against the importation of GMO food and seed. Even though the country admits genetically modified seed has already entered the country, the government has passed a ban on any further imports of GM products.

2408291

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

It has been widely reported that the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, Russia will not import GMO products, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.

Monsanto weighs in against organic farmers

In the US, however, farmers who might want to produce pure organic food cannot guarantee their right to do so. According to a Reuters report by Darren Hauck:

“The US Supreme Court upheld biotech giant Monsanto’s claims on genetically-engineered seed patents and the company’s ability to sue farmers whose fields are inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto materials.

“The high court left intact Monday a federal appeals court decision that threw out a 2011 lawsuit from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and over 80 other plaintiffs against Monsanto that sought to challenge the agrochemical company’s aggressive claims on patents of genetically-modified seeds. The suit also aimed to curb Monsanto from suing anyone whose field is contaminated by such seeds. “

BeeCUp

The innocent bee could carry GE pollen
that contaminates an organic crop

Yes, you read that correctly: Independent farmers whose crops might be contaminated by GM pollen could be sued by Monsanto.

Why was this sanctioned by the US Federal Court?

Because Monsanto wants to protect its rights to any of the GMO seeds it produces, totally.

Americans have in the past championed commercial rights vigorously. If a company has patented a process, people infringing that process should be punished, the public reasoned. But hang on: if the organic farmers have their crops contaminated, won’t that totally compromise their right to be recognised as organic producers? It certainly will. Yet the Courts have sided with the giant corporation.

GrainHarvesting2

Mass production opened up an opportunity for GMO

Monsanto claims on its website that: “Monsanto is a sustainable agriculture company. We deliver agricultural products that support farmers all around the world.

“We are focused on empowering farmers—large and small—to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. We do this with our leading seed brands in crops like corn, cotton, oilseeds and fruits and vegetables.”

What they don’t tell you is that the seed they sell poor farmers cannot be grown and saved for next season’s crops. Consequently costs for farmers, who must buy new seed (from Monsanto) each year, start to skyrocket.

Could the US say NO to Monsanto and GMO?

Could the Senate take on Monsanto and stop the madness? Hardly likely. The company has just convinced the US Court to make a landmark decision that allows the business giant able to sue an individual who inadvertently has his/her crops contaminated by GMO pollen. That hardly seems logical or fair.

The US Government wouldn’t stand a chance.

Protests are growing

May 24th has been declared a protest day against what Monsanto is doing. The protests re world-wide. In New Zealand the following Marches have been organised:

March Against Monsanto Wellington; 12 PM to 3 PM. https://www.facebook.com/events/307340069417568/?ref=br_rs

March Against Monsanto Tauranga; 12 PM to 3 PM. https://www.facebook.com/events/1483944655165464/?ref=br_rs

March Against Monsanto Hamilton; 12 PM to 3 PM. https://www.facebook.com/events/227112040815983/?source=1

If you live elsewhere either create your own March for the 24th, Or find the nearest one on this page.

http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/p/blog-page_5.html

Once on the page click to view map view and find your nearest march.

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Fixing the damage done by our consumerism

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Palm Oil

Why has palm oil become the big bogey of western products?

Well it’s not because we’re harmed by it; it’s because in order to satiate the huge demand for this product vast tracts of native forests are being felled in equatorial countries which many of the great apes call home.

OrangatanBabies

The masks are worn to protect these babies from human disease

Source Wikipedia: “Palm oil is a common cooking ingredient in the tropical belt of Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of Brazil. Its use in the commercial food industry in other parts of the world is buoyed by its lower cost. … “

Why do manufacturers use palm oil?

In search of profits, companies producing a range of consumer products base their ingredients on the lowest possible cost. Palm oil has been shown to be a very useful product because it remains close to a solid at room temperature. This property makes it useful as a means of holding other ingredients together, and for ease of packaging.

Consequently manufacturers of the following products may use it in:

Dairy Products:
  • Most Butters and Margarines so check labels before purchasing
Candy and Snacks:
  • Rolo’s by Hershey
  • Skittles
  • Nestle Chocolate products
  • Mars Chocolate products
  • Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
Personal Care Items:

Keep in mind that many companies have Palm free versions (according to labels) so check labels thoroughly!

  • Some organic ‘natural soaps’
  • Dove lotions and soaps
  • Aveeno Daily Moisturizers
  • Nivea Original
  • Oil of Olay
  • Vaseline
  • Pearl Probiotics
Food Items:
  • Skippy peanut butter
  • Many Granola Bars (check the ingredients)
  • Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
  • Cluster Crunch Cereal
  • Thin Crust Pizza (check the ingredients)
  • Flatbread Pizza
  • Chocolaty Nougat Bar with Peanuts and Caramel
  • Honey Mustard Pretzel Sticks
  • Milk Chocolaty Delight Bar
  • NutriCrunch Chocolates

Hidden sources of Palm Oil

Palm oil is called many things other than Palm Oil: Unmask Palm Oil is the Australasian campaign for mandatory palm oil labelling on all products. Currently palm oil can be labelled as any one of 200 different scientific names making it impossible for consumers to not buy palm oil.

See more at: Unmask Palm Oil

In New Zealand where Unmask Palm Oil is based, the current Government refuses to consider changing its policy to expand the ingredients list where another product of combined ingredients includes palm oil products. However, the campaign has enlisted the support of opposition parties such as the Greens, New Zealand First and the Maori Party. …Unmask Palm Oil recently presented a petition of 7,500 signatures to the New Zealand parliament.

Plight of the Orangutan

Source Wikipedia: “The use of palm oil in food products has attracted the concern of environmental activist groups; the high oil yield of the trees, attractive to profit-driven investors, has led to the clearing of forests in parts of Indonesia in order to make space for oil-palm monoculture. This has resulted in significant acreage losses of the natural habitat of the orangutan, of which both species are endangered; one species in particular, the Sumatran orangutan, has been listed as “critically endangered.”

For an overview of what one Orangutan rescue mission is up to, take a look at this video:

What can you do to help?

Check the ingredients on the products you use regularly and change brands to one with out Palm Oil. When consumers (that’s us) stop buying products, manufacturers stop making them.

Write or email your politicians and put the case for reduced or eliminated use of pal oil on a large scale. If enough people express their views on any subject, politicians become uncomfortable and start listening.

Donate to a charity supporting conservation of the remaining populations of orangutans and other apes, such as The Orangutan Project.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

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

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 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

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

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