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Archive for the ‘Bee Law’ Category

Dear friends across Europe,

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In less than 36 hours, European countries will vote on plans to ban bee killing pesticides, but Bayer and other chemical giants are out in full force trying to protect their profits from needed safety regulation. Our governments are buckling under the pressure — let’s counteract the corporate bullying with a flood of messages to our Agriculture Ministers to save the bees! Send a message now:

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In less than 36 hours, the European Union will vote on whether to ban toxic pesticides that are killing bees around the world and threatening our food supply. The big corporations profiting from this vile stuff are lobbying furiously to defeat the ban and we’ve just heard that key governments are about to cave — unless they feel the sting of public opinion!

Bees are disappearing around the world at alarming rates. Because bees pollinate our crops, experts are warning that these mass deaths pose a catastrophic threat to our food supply. Thankfully, numerous studies have now identified the likely culprit: a certain class of noxious pesticides. An official EU report found that banning them could solve the problem, but pesticide giant Bayer is trying to convince our leaders to ignore the science to protect their profits.

Over 2.5 million of us have signed the petition that made this vote possible — and now it’s time to tell our politicians that they must side with science to save the bees this week. Let’s flood the inboxes of our Agriculture Ministers, drown out the corporate lobby, and make sure our governments saves the bees and our food — click below to send a message then share this urgent campaign with your friends:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bye_bye_bees_eu_spread/?bWdzgdb&v=23040

Bees don’t just make honey, they are vital to life on earth, every year pollinating 90% of plants and crops and helping to generate an estimated $40bn value and over one-third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees, many of our favourite fruits, vegetables, and nuts could vanish from our shelves.

Last month the European Food Safety Authority gave the most compelling evidence yet that toxic chemicals called neonicotinoid pesticides could be responsible for the bee deaths. Italy has banned some uses of these bee-killing pesticides and has already seen it’s bee populations come back, but Bayer and Sygenta are lobbying to prevent a Euro-wide ban, for fears it would harm their global business. It seems they’re close to having the support of the UK, Spain, and Germany, who want to protect their biggest chemical corporations.

Now the issue is coming to a boil. Just weeks ago, Avaaz delivered a petition signed by over 2.5 million of us to the European Commission, who proposed a ban days later. EU parliamentarians are stepping up their pressure and several other European governments have announced plans to push ahead with new legislation to ban the deadly pesticides on their own. So we have the power to win this, but we need one final push to overcome the pesticide lobby. Send a message telling our governments to support the ban now and then share with others:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bye_bye_bees_eu_spread/?bWdzgdb&v=23040

Our world is beset with threats to what makes it habitable, and to what fills it with wonder. The Avaaz community comes together to defend both — large or small. Whether winning a battle to keep the International Whaling Commission from sanctioning the murder of these giants, or saving bees, the tiny creatures upon which so much depends, we will come together and stand up for the world we all want.

With hope,

Iain, Marie, Pascal, Emma, Ricken, Alaphia, and the Avaaz team

MORE INFORMATION

EU Proposes ban on bee killer (The Telegraph)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9840497/EU-proposes-ban-on-bee-killer-pesticide.html

Bayer slams draconian EU plans to ban neonicotinoids (Farmers weekly)
http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/01/02/2013/137451/bayer-slams-39draconian39-eu-plan-to-ban-neonicotinoids.htm

Government to ignore European ban on neonicotinoid pesticides (Independent)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/government-to-ignore-european-ban-on-neonicotinoid-pesticides-8483916.html

The Battle to ban bee killers (Avaaz Daily Briefing)
http://en.avaaz.org/1326/eu-ban-bee-killing-pesticides-bayer 

Studies fault Bayer in bee die-off (Christian Science Monitor)
http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0406/Studies-fault-Bayer-in-bee-die-off

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We caught the first swarm of the season on Monday night.  It was 18ft up in a bush – and I had to use an extension to my long pole (used for painting) to get the box up there.  Luckily Dennis (whose garden it was) had an additional 3 poles which I used to extend my pole as well as get the smoker up there!

The photo looks as though I am trying to catch the sun!

Having inspected the hives on Saturday, Faith is still very weak and I somehow doubt will come through as I have now tried to re-queen her twice.  We therefore decided to call this swarm “Hope” to keep the spirit of our three first hives – Faith, Hope and Charity.  The original Hope and Charity died off in 2005, but Faith has kept going since then.  Oh – and it was luck that the place that we caught the hive in started with an H – so we stuck to the Bee Law of naming the hives from the first letter of the place that they were caught!

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A third of UK bee colonies have been lost over the last two years and there have been many explanations given for this. There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids – a class of pesticide first used in agriculture in the mid 1990s at exactly the time when mass bee disappearances started occurring – are involved in the deaths. The evidence against these chemicals is strong enough that they have been banned or suspended in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – but not yet in the UK.
Neonicotinoids work as an insecticide by blocking specific neural pathways in insects’ central nervous systems. The chemicals impair bees’ communication, homing and foraging ability, flight activity, ability to discriminate by smell, learning, and immune systems – all of which have an impact on bees’ ability to survive. 

It seems bees genetic make up makes them particularly vulnerable to neonicotinoids. Recent mapping of the bee genome has revealed that bees’ capacity to detoxify chemicals is much lower than other insects. Instead bees have two strategies to protect themselves. On the first day of foraging in a new area, scout bees are sent out first to taste the nectar and pollens – if any are adversely affected they will be expelled from the hive immediately, and the colony will avoid the area.

In addition, once foraging begins, nurse bees in the hive clean foragers each time they return. These strategies protect the colony from mass exposure to lethal doses of chemicals, but they do leave honey bees particularly susceptible to sub-lethal exposures to any contaminants they encounter.

The other really important factor is the complex behaviour of honeybee colonies. For example, the 10,000 forager bees in a typical hive need to co-ordinate their quest for nectar – and they do this through the famed ‘waggle dance’, which communicates the flight direction and distance to sources of nectar. The complexity and precision of these dances is breathtaking, and success relies on the integrity of a nervous system where each synapse is crucial. It is no surprise then that honey bees have been shown to have a higher number of neurological receptors than other insects.

Honey bees live and work as a colony, not as individuals; what seems to be happening is that the cumulative impact of small doses of nenoicotinoids on thousands of bees over time is affecting individual bee’s ability to work and communicate effectively as part of a colony. Because lots of bees in each colony are behaving sub-optimally this can lead to the sudden, and devastating, outcomes that we’ve been witnessing in recent years.

The Soil Association believes that there is already enough evidence to justify an immediate ban on neonicotinoids today.

Article from The Soil Association <HERE> – with addition PDF Download: Bee briefing: The evidence that neonicotinoids are implicated in colony collapse disorder in honey bees, and should be banned in the UK

Picture below from: http://www.cbgnetwork.org/2821.html

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I just love stories that show that the world of bees is unexplainable, beyond individual intelligence and that even to the most brainiest of scientists can’t explain how they do it!

Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London and Royal Holloway, University of London have discovered that bees learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they discover the flowers in a different order. Bees are effectively solving the ‘Travelling Salesman Problem’, and these are the first animals found to do this.


The Travelling Salesman must find the shortest route that allows him to visit all locations on his route. Computers solve it by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the shortest. However, bees solve it without computer assistance using a brain the size of grass seed. […]

Co-author and Queen Mary colleague, Dr. Mathieu Lihoreau adds: “There is a common perception that smaller brains constrain animals to be simple reflex machines. But our work with bees shows advanced cognitive capacities with very limited neuron numbers. There is an urgent need to understand the neuronal hardware underpinning animal intelligence, and relatively simple nervous systems such as those of insects make this mystery more tractable.

So long as scientists only think of bees as individual insects, they will continue to miss the point.  Same for the planet really.  So long as governments continue to see us as individuals, they will also miss the point.  Time for more research into swarm intelligence and the subtle energies that allow colonies to survive and prosper.

Story from: http://technoccult.net/archives/2010/10/27/bees-can-solve-the-travelling-salesman-problem/

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A great programme from the BBC on Heater Bees broadcast this evening.

Unfortunately, you can’t watch the whole programme any more, but there are some clips here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rqgh4#clips

And this amazing photograph:

 

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As is the custom at our Apiary, any swarms that we catch are called by the names of the places that we caught them in – but only for the first year.  If they get through the winter, then they are given new names – which are all virtues.  We started with Faith, Hope and Charity.  The only one of the original hives that we started with five years ago is Faith.  And she has re-queened at least twice.

So on Sunday, we set off to the Apiary to ensure there was enough food in the hives after all the recent cold weather – and to take away any hives that had not made it through the winter.  There were two such hives: Joy and Trust.  Joy went queenless in July and I did not re-queen here because we had so many hives by then!  Trust was very weak at the end of the year – and I was not surprised to find an empty hive.  However, what did surprise me was that Trust had quite bad woodpecker damage around the entrance….which will require a bit of woodwork to mend.

So we now have seven hives!  New names are in bold.  The old hives are in italics.

Unity – Probably the strongest hive of all.  Caught on the day before the wedding of the owners of the land where we caught the swarm!

Kindness – Good swarm caught in a hedge next to the local cricket pitch from a local village starting with the letter “K”.

Melody – Very black bees – possibly from the church belltower in a local town starting with the letter “M”.

Harmony – Imported from Essex two years ago.  Joy was her sister, but Joy did not get through the winter.  Oh Joy!

Faith – (Good old Faith!)  The longest surviving hive of all, having re-queened her with a thoroughbred from the West 4 years ago!)

Grace – also quite buzzy – but not as strong as Liberty.

Liberty – strong but still quite buzzy!  Could be an old queen as this was the swarm from the local golf course (starting with the letter “L”) which later threw a cast onto the same bush about a week later!  We gave the cast to a beekeeping friend – and it has also over-wintered well.

Starting the year with seven hives is a record and a nice position to be in having gone down to one hive this time two years ago.  We have a number of friends who are asking for bees, so I expect that we will be moving a few of them on as the weather gets warmer.

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In the work that I do, I am often asked what is the difference between leaders and managers.  So here is an attempt to describe the difference:
Leaders lead people. In order to lead people they need vision of a possible future and a sense of purpose. And they need to convince others that this vision and purpose are something that are worth working towards. Leaders  have to master uncertainty and lead people when the future is uncertain and the outcomes are unclear. To that extent, leaders will need to fall back on their own values and beliefs and express (when questioned) what the future might look like.  They will often answer uncertainty with more uncertainty, but dress it up in a coat of confidence such that the followers believe in the body language and are less concerned about the ideas or words.
Managers manage work. The work might have other people doing the work or it might have machines doing the work. Enlightened managers should also be leaders. But when the people become machines without a purpose other than to turn up and do the work and get a wage – and when the managers become lazy and start bullying the workforce, then managers are on the rocky road to redundancy – working towards redundancy of the process they are managing and, ultimately, redundancy from the organisation they are working for.
Therefore, Leadership is normally described in a positive light – because it is easy to see when leaders are being effective and have enthusiastic followers. Quite simply, mis-leadership is not such an interesting idea, because the followers simply stop following and move on to follow something else!
However, we constantly struggle with the two poles of management – good management and mis-management – simply because our employment laws and the ways that companies create contracts often lock-in the bully-boy mentality to a process, system or business relationship that others will follow simply to earn a wage.
In beekeeping we have a term for a colony that is being well-managed (not just by the queen, but when the system is stable). It is when the colony is “queen-right”.  In other words, there is single laying queen in residence that gives off enough pheromones to keep the colony happy.  It is not simply that the queen is a good leader, but that the pheromones are strong and bind the colony. I often think human societies behave in the same way – except that our pheromones are words!
When the colony is not “queen-right”, there are no binding pheromones.  In such cases, the colony starts to become stressed.  If a queen does not appear from a queen cell in three or four weeks, it is likely that workers will start laying unfertilised eggs.  Although flying bees will continue to bring nectar and pollen into the hive, the hive will eventually die off because no new bees are being produced by the colony.  I have often found that a hive in this state also becomes aggressive – but not in every case.  So in this case there is no “leadership” in the sense that there are no binding pheromones from the queen – yet lots of day-to-day management of tasks that are instinctive behaviours by the individual bees.
Interested to know what others think about these ideas!

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