Minnesota lawmakers to pay homeowners for bee gardens

May 31, 2019 by  
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New legislation is awaiting Minnesota’s Governor Tim Waltz’s approval to provide financial support for homeowners who want to transform their yards into bee-friendly gardens in an effort to help save the endangered species. The bill will allocate $900,000 and will cover up to 75 percent of the expenses associated with transitioning outdoor space into a flowering garden that attracts the indigenous and endangered rusty patch bumble bee. Like most bees, the rusty patch bumble bee population is declining rapidly. It is indigenous to North America and can be identified by a rusty-colored patch on the back of the male worker bees ’ back. The species has declined by 87 percent over the last two decades mainly due to habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use. The majority of grasslands and prairies have been destroyed or fragmented so the bees cannot find sufficient nectar and pollen to live and reproduce. Climate change also plays a roll in their place on the Endangered Species Act because changing weather patterns limit the time frame the bees have to harvest pollen, hibernate and nest. And finally, chemical fertilizers and pesticides absorbed directly from flowering crops or indirectly through pollen, are devastating populations. Related: Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies States like Michigan, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Montana have all implemented programs that encourage landowners to attract and host these important pollinators. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends planting flowering plants wherever possible in your yard and patio. Their list of preferred plants includes wild roses and geraniums, milkweeds, thistles, plums, cherries and willows. They also recommend sticking with native plant varieties and removing invasives as soon as possible. Since rusty patch bumble bees nest in the ground– typically in undisturbed soil and rodent burrows– they also recommend that farmers leave some untouched land. As unbowed, brushy and un-tilled areas give the bees a space to live and reproduce. Via The Hill Image via Nottmpictures

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Studio NAB proposes rebuilding Notre Dame with a greenhouse and apiary

May 2, 2019 by  
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After a devastating blaze consumed the Cathedral of Notre Dame’s wooden roof and iconic central spire, architects around the world have been putting forth their visionary ideas for rebuilding the Parisian landmark. One such architectural firm is Paris-based Studio NAB , which has made headlines with its proposal to modernize the 13th-century cathedral with a massive educational greenhouse and apiary. Dubbed “In Green For All of Us,” the design builds on the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s hopes that the cathedral rehabilitation be “adapted to issues of our time.” Rather than simply restore the Cathedral of Notre Dame back to its former state, Studio NAB has suggested recreating the original silhouette with new materials. Instead of timber-frame construction, the new roof and spire would be constructed from gold-painted steel with large glass panels. The rooftop greenhouse would be used to provide professional training for the poor and education for the general public on topics of urban agriculture , horticulture and permaculture. “On this fire and in the period of crisis that the country and the world are currently going through, we are lucky to build a place of reference where conservation, enrichment of an exceptional heritage and taking into account societal challenges in ecology and equal opportunities,” the architects explained. “Protecting the living, reintroducing biodiversity , educating consciences and being social, are all symbols, faithful to the values of France and those of the church, that we could defend and promote for this project.” Related: SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient Inspired by the nearly 200,000 honeybees that survived the fire on Notre Dame’s lower roof, Studio NAB wants to transform the central spire into a glass-walled apiary with a larger number of hives capable of producing honey for sale. In homage to the roof’s original framework — nicknamed “the forest” after its many ancient timbers — the architects will also reuse salvaged wood as planters and other structures within the greenhouse. + Studio NAB Renderings via Studio NAB; photos via Wikimedia ( 1 ,  2 )

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Studio NAB proposes rebuilding Notre Dame with a greenhouse and apiary

Believed extinct for 38 years, the world’s largest bee has been found

February 22, 2019 by  
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Measuring in at four times the size of the average honeybee, Wallace’s giant bee has been on the endangered species radar for decades and was feared to be gone forever. But after 38 years of searching, scientists have confirmed that the world’s largest bee hasn’t gone extinct just yet. A team of scientists hailing from the United States and Australia discovered a female giant bee on the North Moluccas islands of Indonesia. The bee was uncovered in a termite nest, and the team was able to capture a series of photos of the massive insect, which has somehow evaded extinction all these years. Scientists have yet to determine how many giant bees are in the wild. Related: Bee Saving Paper “works like an energy drink for bees” “It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed anymore,” Clay Bolt , one of the team’s photographers, explained. According to The Guardian , Alfred Russel Wallace, a well-known naturalist and explorer from Britain, discovered the giant bee in 1858. Although it is the world’s largest bee , sightings of the flying insect have been rare, and scientists have had a difficult time unlocking its secrets. In fact, the giant bee stayed off the radar until 1981, when an American scientist named Adam Messer found three members of the species in Indonesia. The giant bee once again disappeared after Messer’s sightings, and scientists worried that the species had gone extinct. Fortunately, finding the living solo female proves that Wallace’s giant bee is still around, sparking hope that the species will continue to evade extinction in the years to come. The IUCN currently lists Wallace’s giant bee as vulnerable. Sadly, deforestation in the region is threatening the bee’s natural habitat. Collectors also seek out the giant bee because it is so rare, which has driven numbers down even more. Indonesia has yet to enact legislation that protects the bees from being targeted by humans. Scientists hope the new sighting will raise awareness about the giant bee and prompt lawmakers to take action to prevent the insect from becoming another  endangered species that goes extinct. Via The Guardian Images via Clay Bolt

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Believed extinct for 38 years, the world’s largest bee has been found

China closes Mount Everest base camp after overwhelming trash problem reports

February 22, 2019 by  
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China is taking steps to clean up Mount Everest amid growing concerns about trash accumulation. The base camp at the foot of the world’s tallest mountain is officially closed to tourists until further notice. The closure of the base camp comes after a surprising report from the Tibet Autonomous Region Sports Bureau, which claims it has picked up over 8 tons of trash from the site, including human waste and general garbage, last year alone. It is unclear when the base camp will open to tourists. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 “[N]o unit or individuals are allowed entry into the core area of the Mount Qomolangma National Nature Reserve,” local officials posted in Tibet . Qomolangma is what Tibetans call Everest. The notices were originally posted last December, though the closure is only now getting attention from media outlets around the world. Climbers can still gain access to Everest via China but not without a special permit. The country plans to issue around 300 permits in 2019. Tourists can also visit Everest, they just cannot reach the mountain through China. Anyone can still reach the north face of Everest via the Rongbuk Monastery, which is located around a mile from the main base camp. Trash buildup around the base of Everest has become a major issue over the past few years. China and Nepal have both initiated programs to deal with removing trash from the site, including encouraging climbers to take their garbage with them when they leave base camp. China, for example, has started to fine climbers who do not come off the mountain with their waste, while Nepal charges $4,000 for a refundable garbage deposit. Despite the efforts to curb trash accumulation, only about 50 percent of climbers came off the mountain with the minimum trash requirement. Although the majority of climbers reach Everest by way of Nepal, 40,000 visitors made their way to the Chinese base camp in 2015. China has not announced when it plans to reopen its base camp on the foot of Mount Everest. Via EcoWatch Image via Shutterstock

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France is the first country to ban all 5 pesticides linked to bee deaths

February 8, 2019 by  
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In a decisive move, France has become the first country to ban all five of the top pesticides blamed for bee die-off around the world. The phenomenon dubbed “colony collapse disorder” has seen bees dying in record numbers, and scientists are pointing fingers as neonicotinoid pesticides as the primary suspect. The EU led the charge by banning three of the pesticides: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. However, France took it one step further by also banning thiacloprid and acetamiprid in all farming activities, including greenhouses. Related: Bee hive vandalism in Iowa kills tens of thousands of honeybees The neonicotinoids ( with a similar structure to nicotine ) were introduced in the 1990s and work by attacking the central nervous system of the insects. With the same chemical being dusted on plants that bees target, they also ingest it. Researchers report that neonicotinoids are responsible for a lower sperm count in bees, cutting reproduction rates. Other reports have shown how the chemicals interfere with memory and homing skills, resulting in bees flying away and not returning to the hive. The latest research suggests bees may find the toxic chemicals addictive, keeping them returning for more. The scientific link between pesticides and the declining health of bee populations has many concerned about the future of our food products. Plants, flowers and trees won’t grow without the pollination that bees provide, which means food won’t grow, either. Some farmers are reporting near total losses to their bee populations, which has a dire effect on the workings of the farm. While environmentalists and bee keepers are saluting the decision to ban these pesticides , some farmers are feeling disheartened by their ability to compete in the food production market without chemicals to protect them against invasive bugs and harmful insects. The farmers feel there is not enough evidence to support such a dramatic move. The elimination of these pesticides begs the question of what will replace them and what potential issues could arise from those solutions. In contrast to the landmark move by France, President Trump repealed an Obama-era policy that had banned the use of these pesticides near national wildlife refuges, once again allowing farmers to use them in otherwise protected regions with limited oversight. Via The Telegraph Image via Anna Reiff

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France is the first country to ban all 5 pesticides linked to bee deaths

MaliArts designs city-chic beehives to save solitary bees

November 5, 2018 by  
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We’re big fans of beautifully designed urban beehives on Inhabitat, and Mexico-based design studio MaliArts’ new shelters for solitary bees are just as buzz-worthy. Dubbed ‘Refugio,’ the project currently consists of three distinct and sculptural beehives aimed at attracting different species of solitary bees. Built with natural materials, each shelter offers a resting place and access to food and water for the insects. When most of us think about bees, it’s the sociable honey bees and bumblebees that first spring to mind. However, the solitary bees — which, as the name suggests, are lone bees that don’t belong to any colony — make up most of the bee species around the world. Though they’re less popularly known because they typically produce neither honey nor beeswax (and have a weak or nonexistent sting), solitary bees are powerful pollinators and have important roles to play in our food system. “When we talk about bees, we usually imagine the European honey bee ( Apis mellifera ) when in reality, around 90 percent of the bee species are considered solitary,” Gabriel Calvillo of MaliArts told  Dezeen . “The fact that solitary bees do not generate any ‘consumable product’ for humans has meant that they are not given much attention, but recent studies point to the fact that they are possibly the most efficient pollinators in nature.” Related: 6 buzz-worthy backyard beehive designs To bring attention to these bees and create habitats for the endangered insects, MaliArts created three Refugio structures each tailored to the different nesting and refuge preferences of solitary bees. Stylish enough for a wide range of urban settings, each bee hotel is built of  pine  and teak wood finished with natural oil, a ceramic roof or body and steel legs. Feeders and waterers are integrated into the design. Each shelter will also be accompanied by explanatory reading material for passersby. + MaliArts Via Dezeen Images via MaliArts

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Bees addicted to pesticides much like smokers to nicotine, scientists say

August 30, 2018 by  
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Bees have developed a likening to pesticide-containing plants , according to a recent study. The affinity exhibited by the bees is similar to an addiction to nicotine from cigarettes. Apparently, the more pesticide-laced pollen that the bees ingest, the more they crave the tainted alternatives. The contaminated nectar is potentially harmful to bees and unfortunately, researchers are finding higher quantities entering bee colonies than before. To reach these conclusions, a British research team conducted a series of studies over 10-day periods, offering 10 different bee colonies access to both pure sugar solutions as well as a compound that contained neonicotinoids, or neonics. Over extensive exposure, the bees increasingly preferred the sugar flavored with pesticides over the natural alternative. Related: Canada moves to ban bee-killing pesticides “Interestingly, neonicotinoids target nerve receptors in insects that are similar to receptors targeted by nicotine in mammals ,” explained Richard Gill, researcher in the Department of Life Sciences at London’s Imperial College . “Whilst neonicotinoids are controversial, if the effects of replacements on non-target insects are not understood, then I believe it is sensible that we take advantage of current knowledge and further studies to provide guidance for using neonicotinoids more responsibly, rather than necessarily an outright ban.” Related: Total field ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids likely after new EU assessments Researchers will continue to experiment with the bees, according to lead scientist Andres Arce, part of the same Imperial College department as Gill. “Many studies on neonicotinoids feed bees exclusively with pesticide-laden food, but in reality, wild bees have a choice of where to feed,” Arce said. “We wanted to know if the bees could detect the pesticides and eventually learn to avoid them by feeding on the uncontaminated food we were offering. We now need to conduct further studies to try and understand the mechanism behind why they acquire this preference.” The extensive research will have major implications for agriculture practices in the EU as well as North America. The EU already imposed a partial ban on neonics in 2013 after evidence found that they may have an adverse effect to bee colonies. As of today, the ban has been extended to all crops that are not grown in greenhouses. Canada has already moved to ban the pesticide this year, with the U.S. following suit in the near future. + The Royal Society Publishing Via The Guardian Image via Axel Rouvin

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Bee Saving Paper "works like an energy drink for bees"

June 4, 2018 by  
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Urban development and industrialization hasn’t been great for bees — they have to fly longer distances, which has played a role in their declines, according to the initiative City Bees. The initiative’s  Bee Saving Paper  offers a juicy solution: biodegradable paper that functions like a bee energy drink. Out of 469 bee species in Poland, 222 are on the verge of extinction, and the sad story is similar around the world. City Bees teamed up with Saatchi & Saatchi IS Warsaw , Manufaktura Papieru Czerpanego w Koby?ce , paper craftsmen and entomology experts to create Bee Saving Paper, a bee-friendly product with many uses: bags, coffee cup sleeves, picnic plates and more. Related: Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit How does this product work? It’s created with what the initiative called an energy-rich glucose that won’t make the paper sticky but is appealing for the buzzing insects . Seeds from the Lacy Phacelia plant are also incorporated in the paper . Finally, a water-based UV paint helps attract bees to the paper; the paint is applied in a pattern of what bees see as red circles, similar to how they view meadows. The designers hope bees consume the glucose and collect the Lacy Phacelia seeds to redistribute them so they grow into flowers . “We’ve managed to develop and produce what is probably the first paper nature would not only like you to use, but maybe even to drop,” project senior creatives Tomasz Bujok and Anna Gadecka said. “We know our innovation won’t solve the worldwide problem of the declining bee population by itself, but we hope we’ll at least make people realize how important bees are to us.” Bee Saving Paper has been tested in the field by a beekeeper , the team said, and they’re ready to work with large brands and mass-produce the paper. You can find out more on their website . + Bee Saving Paper Images via Bee Saving Paper

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Bee Saving Paper "works like an energy drink for bees"

Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades

June 4, 2018 by  
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Climate change disproportionately impacts the Arctic, where rising global temperatures wrought by the burning of fossil fuels have brought rapid, fundamental changes to places like Alaska. In a new study published in Global Change Biology , researchers conclude that 67,000 square miles of land in Alaska, 13 percent of the total land, have been affected over the past three decades. The land has been impacted by what the study calls ‘directional change,’ in which a location has experienced fundamental change in its ecology from historic levels. For example, some areas have become greener and wetter and others have dried out as glaciers shrink and wildfires rage across the state. Even trees have shifted, with treelines moving farther north to adjust to a warming Arctic. To study the drastic changes in Alaska , scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used satellite and aerial imagery integrated with field data to create a mapping algorithm that assesses the level of change throughout the state. The study analyzed 540,000 square miles of land, noting the various kinds of changes in different Alaskan ecosystems. Near the tundra, the environment is becoming greener as trees and other plants spread beyond their traditional northern border. Meanwhile, interior forests are drying out, resulting in increased and more intense wildfires, which the researchers conclude is the greatest factor in Alaska’s ecological change. “What impressed me [was] how extensive and influential the fires were,” study co-author Bruce Wylie told Earther . Related: One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact Climate change has also disrupted the state’s historic water patterns. Melting permafrost has led to depressions, allowing wetlands to form in unusual places. This has also exacerbated erosion along the coasts, which are being tested by an ever-shorter season of sea ice. The comprehensive study of these varied changes may be helpful as scientists and policymakers plan for Alaska’s future. “Now with this study we have spatially explicit interpretations of the changes on the land, with specific drivers identified and attributed to the changes,” NASA carbon cycle scientist Peter Griffith told Earther . However, there is still so much more to learn. The study’s results, limited by available technology and resources, do not tell the whole story. + Global Change Biology Via Earther Images via Depositphotos and USGS

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Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades

EU approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides

April 27, 2018 by  
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In a monumental decision that has been years in the making , all member nations of the European Union have approved a total ban of neonicotinoids, the most widely used insecticide in the world and a well-documented danger to bees and other pollinators. The ban is expected to go into effect by the end of this year, though use of the insecticide will still be allowed in greenhouses . The rapidly declining population of pollinator species in recent years is in part due to the widespread use of harmful pesticides. The ban should result in a healthier pollinator population, which is essential for global food production. The vote follows recent studies that have confirmed the danger that neonicotinoids pose to pollinators, directly and through water and soil contamination. “The commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from [the EU ‘s scientific risk assessors],” Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety, told the Guardian . “Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.” Related: NASA has a plan to put robot bees on Mars This policy change pleased activists. “Finally, our governments are listening to their citizens, the scientific evidence and farmers who know that bees can’t live with these chemicals, and we can’t live without bees,” Antonia Staats at Avaaz said. Meanwhile, industry representatives disapproved. “European agriculture will suffer as a result of this decision,” Graeme Taylor, of the European Crop Protection Association , said. “Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but in time decision makers will see the clear impact of removing a vital tool for farmers.” Research suggests that Taylor’s concerns are unfounded, while the dramatic decline in pollinator populations — which will continue to occur without action — proves disastrous for food production. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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EU approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides

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