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

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

Total field ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids likely after new EU assessments

March 1, 2018 by  
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A total ban on pesticides that harm bees is highly likely in the European Union, according to The Guardian . The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published new assessments Wednesday confirming the risks of neonicotinoids for bees. Countries will vote next month, and a total field ban is likely. EFSA just put out new assessments, releasing conclusions updating ones from 2013 on the neonicotinoids clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. The assessments cover honeybees , as well solitary bees and bumblebees for the first time, according to The Guardian, which also said the authority scrutinized over 1,500 studies to come to their conclusions. EFSA finalized them after consulting with pesticide experts in the European Union , whom they said supported their conclusions. Related: Over 700 North American bee species are heading towards extinction EFSA’s Pesticides Unit head Jose Tarazona said they were able to arrive at very detailed conclusions as there’s an ample amount of data, saying in a statement, “There is variability in the conclusions, due to factors such as the bee species, the intended use of the pesticide, and the route of exposure. Some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.” Many environmentalists and scientists welcomed the news, according to The Guardian. Friends of the Earth campaigner Sandra Bell said in a statement , “We have been playing Russian Roulette with the future of our bees for far too long. The UK government has already said it will support a complete ban on the outdoor use of these three bee-harming chemicals — a move that is fully justified by this report. Other EU countries must now back a tougher ban too.” The EU passed a partial ban in 2013, according to The Guardian, following EFSA’s first assessment finding unacceptable risks for bees from neonicotinoid pesticides. + European Food Safety Authority Via The Guardian Images via Danilo Batista on Unsplash and Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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Total field ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids likely after new EU assessments

Heavenly Organics uses honey to foster peace in conflict zones across India

February 20, 2018 by  
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Amit Hooda hopes to eliminate conflict with sustainable honey harvesting. He started Heavenly Organics , a company selling honey with the goal of providing ethical jobs , to foster peace . The company supports almost 600 family farmers in conflict zones across India, selling raw, organic honey they describe as the “cleanest sourced honey you can find.” Hooda discussed with his agronomist father, I.S. Hooda, how he might help people living in conflict zones. His father had spent 35 years building relationships with farmers to preserve traditional organic farming practices, according to Heavenly Organics , and help them earn money from their products. Amit grew up near a conflict zone in India during the Punjab Insurgency, and that experience inspired him to figure out a way to help others. Together, the Hoodas envisioned a company that could provide people with ethical job opportunities as a way of defeating conflict. Over a decade later, Heavenly Organics supports hundreds of farmers and sells cane sugar, chocolate honey patties, and honey. Related: Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit They don’t sell just any honey, but raw, organic honey sourced from wild beehives in the forests of Central and Northern India and the Himalayas. They say the free-range bees that create their honey and their hives have never been exposed to antibiotics, pollutants, genetically modified crops, or pesticides . Farmers harvesting honey draw on smoke-free methods to conserve wild bee colonies. Happy Fathers Day! Fathers inspire us to be our best selves and to make a real difference in the world. Amit Hooda's father is the living embodiment of this effect in action. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on Jun 18, 2017 at 9:24am PDT Heavenly Organics enables displaced people to find markets for their products and earn a reliable income, according to the website. The company says, “Our goal is to increase the number of farmers we work with to 5,000 in the next five years and to extend this business model into other countries to help create long-lasting sustainable economies in other isolated areas and conflict zones.” Our honey harvesting methods are as pure as our products. Our harvesters use a bee-friendly and smoke-free way of honey collection to protect wild bee colonies and prevent forest fires and deforestation. These sweet methods keep our honey and environment clean and harmonious. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld #SaveTheBees #HoneyHarvest2017 #HoneyHarvester #India #Sustainable #PeacefulProfits A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on May 12, 2017 at 3:13pm PDT Like the Native Americans in the US, there’s an indigenous population within India known as the Adivasis. Unfortunately, they have been poorly treated. As a result, they are more easily convinced to join a growing movement of insurgents looking to take up arms against the Indian Government. This conflict is known as the Naxalite Insurgency. It is rarely talked about in the West, but it is a significant source of strife throughout India. The good news is, when you purchase a jar of Heavenly Organics honey, you help put an end to this conflict by supporting families caught in the crossfire. #HeavenlyOrganics #OneSweetWorld #Honey #RawHoney #Organic #FairTrade #USDAOrganic #Neem #SustainableHarvesting #SmokeFree #GlyphosateFree A post shared by Heavenly Organics® (@heavenlyorganics) on Sep 21, 2017 at 12:55pm PDT Find out where Heavenly Organics products are sold near you here . You can also read more of the company’s story in this recent Wired article . + Heavenly Organics + Heavenly Organics Story Image via Pixabay

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Heavenly Organics uses honey to foster peace in conflict zones across India

BEEcosystem observation hives can be installed inside or outdoors

February 12, 2018 by  
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Today in the United States there are 3.5 million fewer beehives than there were in 1947, a worrying decline given that bees pollinate one out of every three bites of food. Addressing the need for more bees, and in general new awareness about their crucial role as pollinators, Dustin Betz and Mike Zaengle teamed up to design the hexagonal BEEcosystem observation hive . Safely installed either inside or outdoors, the modular beehive can be stacked for growth in much the same way honeybees expand their combs. The pair first introduced BEEcosystem in 2015 , and now, for 2018, they’ve improved upon the original design with nifty new features. Zaengle told Inhabitat that while customers who received BEEcosystems have been thrilled with their purchase, many wished the hive would open from the front, rather than the back. “This slight change would make the hives that are situated outside easier to maintain,” he said. Instead of having to remove the hive from the wall, it can now be maintained in place. Zaengle adds that they “have already worked through this design modification with our current manufacturer and have started our initial production run for the 2018 beekeeping season .” Another limiting factor for potential BEEcosystem owners is lack of experience. People who are unfamiliar with apiculture may be intimidated to bring bees into their homes, while business owners who want to support the pollinators may simply lack the necessary expertise. In response, Betz and Zaengle have set up a new ambassador program. Betz says the Beekeeper Ambassador Program will allow them to build a network of beekeeping experts who can provide services to B2B customers such as farm-to-table restaurants, vineyards and hotels. “We feel the BEEcosystem hive can add tons of value to eco- and agri-tourism businesses,” he said, “and the Ambassador Program will allow more of those businesses to purchase our product without having to have someone in-house manage the hive – this network will also help to educate the next generation of beekeepers, and greatly increase the reach of our social impact.” Related: The world’s first observation hive to ship with an established colony BEEcosystem has forged a partnership with the Clift hotel and beekeeper Roger Garrison in San Francisco, according to Zaengle, as part of a broader effort to expand their mission with “other hotels with a sustainable and eco-driven mission .” Another new feature that facilitates hive expansion includes unique patent pending vent-to-passageway magnetic connection points. “Because both the hive’s side vents and additional hive bodies attach magnetically, by simply sliding out any one of the four side-ventilation screens, another BEEcosystem hive body can be attached to create a more spacious hive interior—giving your colony room to grow and thrive,” according to information detailed in their latest crowdfunding campaign . “By using magnetic alignment, BEEcosystem units connect together effortlessly—and because we use powerful magnets, they also connect together securely—delivering both peace of mind and ease of installation.” A new mason jar top feeder allows budding beekeepers to supplement feeding when necessary, and removable top bar frames makes it easy to harvest honey. A detachable red acrylic piece ensures bees, which, similarly to humans, operate on a circadian rhythm, can enjoy light-free sleep. And the transport tube, like a bee version of a dog door that allows pollinators to travel outdoors to forage, is sealed in with a magnetic safety clasp. Betz and Zaengle have finessed what was already an elegant, minimalist design to ensure maximum comfort for both bees and their human caretakers. They call theirs the most “user-friendly observation hive ever built.” If you would like to support their efforts to scale up manufacturing and expand their educational initiatives, feel free to check out their Indiegogo campaign . They have lots of worthwhile gifts to share. + BEEcosystem + BEEcosystem on Indiegogo

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BEEcosystem observation hives can be installed inside or outdoors

Hanergy’s thin solar panels break multiple world records for efficiency

February 12, 2018 by  
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The China-based international energy corporation Hanergy was recently lauded for its newest solar production module, the highest efficiency single-junction solar module ever created. Hanergy’s US-based subsidiary Alta Devices produced a module, with a 25.1 percent conversion efficiency, capable of powering drones, electric vehicles and sensors that were once out of reach for solar power. Solar modules from subsidiaries Solibro and MiaSole have also broken efficiency records – double glass CIGS solar modules at 18.72 percent and sputtering CIGS solar modules on flexible substrate at 17.88 percent. “As we move toward a world of autonomous machines, developing sources of power that can be replenished without interruption is increasingly important,” Alta Devices Chief Marketing Officer Rich Kapusta told PR Newswire . “Each time our technology achieves a new world record, it has been designed with a clear focus on this goal.” The ultra-efficient, thin, flexible solar panels from Hanergy are possible as a result of gallium arsenide (GaAs), a semiconductor that is moisture and UV radiation resistant. The panels are constructed by growing a thin layer of GaAs on top of a single crystal GaAs wafer using a process known as metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). The thin layer is then peeled off the wafer to produce a flexible, lightweight solar cell. These thin solar panels can then be applied in a variety of situations, including as part of a solar-charging backpack featured above. Related: Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017 The GaAs modules produced by Hanergy achieve efficiency up to two times that of traditional flexible solar cells and have broken conversion efficiency records four times since 2010. They currently hold the world record for the highest conversion efficiency rate (in a laboratory setting) of 28.8 percent. Hanergy has collaborated with European automakers to apply their ultra-efficient solar modules in panoramic vehicle roofs, seamlessly integrating solar power with style. Their modules are also well-suited for drone applications because of their light weight and flexibility that does not affect a drone’s aerodynamic profile. Via PR Newswire and China Daily Images via Miasole and Hanergy (1)

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Hanergy’s thin solar panels break multiple world records for efficiency

"Bee-friendly" plants sold in the UK are coated in harmful pesticides

May 16, 2017 by  
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Conscientious buyers know to look for plants that aren’t covered in bee-killing pesticides , but as it turns out, those plants may be doing more harm than good. That’s because, according to a recent study, most of the plants sold in UK garden centers are coated with deadly neonicotinoid chemicals. Researchers bought plants from four major garden centers and a local nursery in the UK and found that 70 percent had neonicotinoid chemicals on them in quantities high enough to harm bees. Two plants were free of chemicals, while 23 had one or more (and up to 10) chemicals. Neonicotinoids have been shown to kill bees and contribute to colony collapse . Related: EPA finally admits popular insecticide threatens honeybees So how does one be sure that they aren’t harming bees? “Gardeners who wish to gain the benefits without the risks should seek uncontaminated plants by growing their own from seed, plant-swapping or by buying plants from an organic nursery,” said the researchers. Researchers published their findings in the journal Environmental Pollution . Two of the garden centers responded to the report, stating that they do not knowingly sell plants containing neonicotinoids. Via The Independent Images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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