Bee kind to bees, celebrate National Honey Bee Day

August 16, 2019 by  
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Give hard-working honey bees the respect they deserve on National Honey Bee Day. The holiday on Saturday, August 17 is a good time to show extra support for these winged creatures, as these fast-flying insects are responsible for pollinating 30 percent of the world’s food crops and 90 percent of the globe’s wild plants. Here are some tips on how to save the bees on National Honey Bee Day. Use this fun holiday to educate family and friends about the crucial role honey bees play, especially in light of their recent struggles. The number of honey bee colonies fell by 16 percent in the winter of 2017-18, according to an international study led by the University of Strathclyde. As bee populations decline, food security, the economy and healthy ecosystems are all threatened. Related: Native bees are going extinct without much buzz “But the exciting thing is that there are so many tiny actions all of us can do to play a part in protecting bees,” said Cedar Anderson, co-creator of Flow Hive . “Protecting bees is not just the job of beekeepers — we all have a role, and it can start in our own backyards.” If you want to join in and celebrate National Bee Day, think about creating thriving habitats for “these essential little pollinators ,” Anderson said. He suggests these simple tips to help bees thrive. Stop using sprays Don’t reach for the pesticides or sprays, as they are considered one of the leading threats to pollinators worldwide. Instead, garden pesticides can be replaced with natural alternatives such as garlic; onion or salt spray; soap and orange citrus oil; or a chili or pepper spray. Keep in mind that natural sprays can also harm pollinators; use them only outside of foraging hours. Add bee-friendly plants to your garden Maybe you don’t keep bees, but planting a bee-friendly garden at home is easy. Buy plants that bloom at various times to support different pollinators throughout the seasons. Trees and shrubs produce higher quantities of pollen and nectar; however, smaller plants produce forage more regularly. Try to have a combination of different sizes of native plants. Let your garden grow wild Allow veggie and herb plants to flower and dandelions to bloom. This way, the bees get to forage, and you don’t have to worry about gardening for a while. Related: It might be time to let your garden grow wild Teach kids about bees and other pollinators One of the most effective ways to teach children about pollinators is to take them outdoors and get them involved with planting flowers or building hummingbird feeders. Talk to them about the importance of bees to help them appreciate these important creatures. Take it to the next level by becoming a beekeeper Why not delve into becoming a beekeeper and caring for your own colony? It can help you connect with your local environment and keep the bee populations from disappearing. + Flow Hive Image via Christiane

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Bee kind to bees, celebrate National Honey Bee Day

Record-breaking honeybee deaths recorded for last winter

June 21, 2019 by  
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Depending on who you ask, either the mites or the pesticides are to blame for the record-breaking bee decline among honeybees last winter. The truth is likely a combination of both, and the deadly synergy between the two causes has grave impacts on the entire agriculture industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat, and the majority of pollinators in the U.S. are domesticated honeybees. Because industrial agriculture is largely made up of expansive plots of monoculture crops, farmers have to call in commercial beekeepers, who travel the country with hundreds of hives to place on farms. This little-known agricultural niche is absolutely essential to the food system, but with the “product” rapidly dying, many commercial beekeepers fear their profession will no longer be possible nor economically viable. Related: California bans pesticide linked to brain damage in children According to a survey of 4,700 beekeepers, respondents lost nearly 40 percent of their colonies this past winter. That survey represents 320,000 hives, which is thought to be about 12 percent of all commercial hives in the country. This rate of bee decline is the highest ever recorded since the annual survey started 13 years ago. The causes of death are varied but mainly include loss of habitat , improper beekeeper techniques, pesticide use and the bee’s arch-nemesis: the Varroa mite. Scientists at the University of Maryland counted three mites per hundred bees in the colonies they tested, enough to all but ensure death for the colony. “Beekeepers are trying their best to keep [mites] in check, but it’s really an arms race,” said Nathalie Steinhauer from the University of Maryland. “That’s concerning, because we know arms races don’t usually end well.” Unfortunately, there isn’t much beekeepers can do to prevent the mites; however, it is clear that pesticide application weakens honeybees ’ immune systems and makes them susceptible to parasites, like the mites. Although the pesticide companies are quick to point a finger at the mites as the culprit for widespread colony deaths, their hands are far from clean. “There’s a huge amount of data [and] research showing pesticides are a significant player in the decline of honeybees and other insect species,” said Steinhauer. “And yet there’s been so little done to make a change on that front. The EPA has been incredibly ineffective.” Via NPR Image via Pexels

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Record-breaking honeybee deaths recorded for last winter

Beautiful, solar-powered EV charging stations promise to charge a vehicle in 15 minutes

June 21, 2019 by  
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Copenhagen-based architectural firm COBE has just unveiled what are possibly the most beautiful and sustainable electric vehicle charging stations in the world. Built entirely from recyclable materials and powered by solar energy, these ultra-fast charging stations not only recharge a vehicle in just 15 minutes but also offer drivers a welcoming place to rest and relax. The first COBE-designed EV charging station was installed on the E20 motorway in the Danish city of Fredericia, with 47 more planned along Scandinavian highways: seven more in Denmark, 20 in Sweden and 20 in Norway. Created in partnership with Powered by E.ON Drive & Clever, the COBE-designed EV charging station consists of a series of “trees” made primarily from certified wood. The tree-inspired structures feature a canopy that provides shade and protection from the elements, while also providing space for a green roof and solar panels. The modular structures are scalable so that multiple “tree” structures can be combined into a “grove.” The Fredericia charging station features a “grove” of 12 “trees” with a 400-square-meter canopy. The Danish Society for Nature Conservation helped select the plantings that surround the charging station to enhance biodiversity and create a calming, “zen-like” atmosphere radically different from a traditional gas station setting. Related: World’s first electric road that charges moving vehicles debuts in Sweden “ Electric vehicles are the way of the future,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “With our design, we offer EV drivers a time-out and an opportunity to mentally recharge in a green oasis. The energy and the technology are green, so we wanted the architecture, the materials and the concept to reflect that. So, we designed a charging station in sustainable materials placed in a clean, calm setting with trees and plantings that offer people a dose of mindfulness on the highway.” The firm’s design of the ultra-fast EV charging station won the infrastructure award of the 2018 Danish Building Awards and is being implemented across Scandinavia with support from EU Commission projects Connecting Europe Facility and High Speed Electric Mobility Across Europe. + COBE Images via COBE and Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

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Beautiful, solar-powered EV charging stations promise to charge a vehicle in 15 minutes

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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Minnesota lawmakers to pay homeowners for bee gardens

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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China closes Mount Everest base camp after overwhelming trash problem reports

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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MaliArts designs city-chic beehives to save solitary bees

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

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