Celebrate National Pollinator Week from June 22-28

June 23, 2020 by  
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Thirteen years ago, Pollinator Partnership initiated the annual designation of a week in June to help address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Backed by unanimous approval from the U.S. Senate, Pollinator Week has grown into an international celebration of the fragile ecosystem of bees , birds, butterflies, bats and beetles that help contribute to about 75% of all flowering plant species that require animal pollinators for reproduction. So, what are some of the best ways to help out our planet’s little pollinators? If you have access to a backyard, a window box, a garden or some kind of green space, plant some flowers that are pollinator-friendly. The types of plants that attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators vary by region, so use an Ecoregional Planting Guide to learn which ones will make the pollinators in your area the happiest. Knowing your soil type, planting flowers in clusters for pollinators to target and planting for continuous bloom will help. Related: The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard Try to reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides whenever possible. Pollinator Partnership offers a digitized training module for farmers and certified pesticide applicators to help increase awareness and skill in minimizing the effects of pesticide applications. Register as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge to connect with other gardeners and pollinator-enthusiasts for free, and upload photos or videos of your pollinator site, view profiles of pollinator-friendly plants, measure pollinator progress and highlight areas in need of pollinator action. If you don’t have a green thumb, support your local bees and beekeepers by buying local honey (buying locally sourced products keeps transportation-based carbon emissions low, as well). Because bees, butterflies and other pollinators are drastically affected by climate change , any effort to conserve resources, use less and reduce your carbon footprint is a huge win for everyone. Check out the Pollinator Partnership’s online toolkit for resources and activity ideas for all ages, from webinars on monarch butterfly habitat restoration and pollinator-themed crossword puzzles to school gardening kits and instructions for building a bee box. Each year, local establishments and buildings light up yellow and orange in support of pollinators during Pollinator Week. Participating destinations have included the Empire State Building in New York City, CN Tower in Toronto, City Hall in San Francisco and Niagara Falls in the past. Add lightings, activities and “My Pollinators, My Story” registered gardens to the website’s map . You can also check for local public events in your own neighborhood to participate in and view governor proclamations from all 50 states. + Pollinator Partnership Images via Cole Keister , Mpho Hlakudi and John Duncan

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Celebrate National Pollinator Week from June 22-28

Urban Beehive Project creates a buzz around honeybee education

January 29, 2020 by  
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In Charlottetown, Canada, a delightful buzz of eco-friendly activity has descended on a new public destination — the Urban Beehive Project, a community installation that highlights the importance of pollinators and their role in a sustainable ecosystem. Local architecture and multidisciplinary firm Nine Yards Studio designed the sculptural community project to not only provide habitat for local bees but also to serve as a platform for hands-on learning and play. Located at Charlottetown’s largest urban garden, the PEI Farm Center, the Urban Beehive Project draws the eye with its two free-standing geometric structures that house demonstration beehives. Each structure is punctuated with two windows — one at child height and the other for adults — to provide glimpses of the bees working inside the plexiglass hive. Visitors can also watch the bees exit and enter the hive at the bee landing pad; a door provides beekeepers access to the hives. The raised installations are built from timber and secured in place by helical anchors to minimize site impact. Related: SCAD students fight food insecurity in Georgia with organic farming and beekeeping “Plan Bee” of the Urban Beehive Project is a three-tiered, 30-foot-by-15-foot amphitheater also built from a series of wooden 3-foot hexagonal blocks. The honeycomb-inspired hexagon blocks are stacked to create seating for small groups on all sides. At the back of the amphitheater is a series of upright hexagonal elements — some with attached graphic interpretation signage about the bees — that rise up to 9 feet above the platform and are large enough for children to sit in. Grass berms surround the structure to provide an extra play element for children. “The Urban Beehive Project has created a dynamic and multifunctional apiary destination in Charlottetown,” the architects explained in a statement. “The project has become a play structure, a sculpture, a garden as well as a tool for hands-on learning. More importantly for us, it has become an example of how design can play an important role in our community, our development and our environment.” + Nine Yards Studio Photography by Tamzin Gillis via Nine Yards Studio

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Urban Beehive Project creates a buzz around honeybee education

Enhance Your Garden With Bee-utiful Bee Houses

August 12, 2019 by  
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Plenty of backyards are doubling as an enticing bed-and-breakfast. For … The post Enhance Your Garden With Bee-utiful Bee Houses appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Enhance Your Garden With Bee-utiful Bee Houses

Eco toilets empower women and save nature in Colombia

June 28, 2019 by  
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Jenifer Colpas spends her days installing toilets, but her work has won her accolades as a Global Changemaker, Young Champion of the Earth and most recently as a winner of the United Nation’s Lead 2030 Challenge. For Colpas, her unique waterless toilet design is more than just a bathroom — its an unlikely hero and an opportunity to empower women, protect watersheds and finally flush widespread sanitation-related illness down the drain for good. In 2015, Jenifer Colpas launched her social enterprise, Tierra Grata , with some friends. They were determined to address the poverty that had first shocked them on a trip to India and then emboldened them when they realized it was pervasive back home in Colombia , too. “I was truly outraged by the fact that people lived without the most basic things, like access to electricity, a proper toilet and safe drinking water,” Colpas recalled . Related: Evaporative off-grid toilets don’t need plumbing, water or electricity Tierra Grata, which loosely means “pleasant earth” in Spanish, not only provides low-cost ecological toilet facilities for rural communities in Colombia, it also uses the toilet installation as an entry point to open dialogue, provide skills training and empower women. The perfect toilet Tierra Grata’s solution, the baño grata , is a simple structure that can be installed with local labor at minimal cost. The ecological toilet does not use any water at all, which saves approximately 270,000 liters per year when compared to a conventional toilet. “Instead of water, a mixture of lime, sawdust and ashes is used, placed each time a stool is made; that mixture of organic materials neutralizes all the odors, while it is converting the organic matter into fertilizer,” Colpas explained. In many rural communities, residents do not have access to any bathroom facilities and therefore must use makeshift bathrooms that are at risk of contaminating the soil or local watershed. The baño grata eliminates this risk, protects watersheds and even uses the waste to produce fertilizer for plants. Some of the bathroom structures also contain a separate shower and changing space, which specifically provides women with privacy that can be especially important during menstruation, pregnancy or post-partum. The link between women and water Tierra Grata’s business model is more than just the installation of an ecological toilet. Instead, its team targets households and communities either headed by or with a larger number of women and girls. Once selected, the team trains females in toilet maintenance and sanitation practices, providing skills that ensure the facilities are sustainably managed. In Colombia and throughout the world, the lack of access to a private or accessible toilet can deter women from participating actively in society — preventing them from attending meetings and trainings that would otherwise support their roles as leaders and decision-makers. If a woman knows there is nowhere to use the bathroom for miles around, she is more likely to skip out on an activity, and the community misses out on her contribution. Related: Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean — here’s why “Access to water and sanitation is a basic human right, fundamental to the realization of all other human rights. Unfortunately, a lack of adequate access, either in terms of quantity or quality of water, often impacts women and children disproportionately,” said Lis Mullin Bernhardt from U.N. Environment. “In most regions of the world, women are responsible for helping their families get access to these life-giving services, so it is essential that their unique views and challenges are part of the decision-making processes and solutions. Tierra Grata is a great step in this direction.” Around the world, millions lack water and sanitation In rural Colombia, approximately 30 percent of people do not have an adequate system for the proper separation and disposal of sewage . Throughout the world, the situation is even more dire. Approximately 844 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Moreover, 2.3 billion people lack access to what is considered basic sanitation amenities: simple toilets, hand washing facilities and soap. Of these more than 2 billion people, 70 percent live in rural areas. In many cultures, women and children are responsible for collecting water for their families, cooking and washing clothes. These time-consuming tasks often prohibit their full participation in school and other activities. When rural schools do not have adequate toilet facilities for teenage girls, many skip out on important lessons during their menstruation cycle and fall behind their male peers. Despite technological advances and innovative entrepreneurs like Colpas, the percentage of the world population without basic sanitation actually expanded in the last two decades, from 59 percent in 2000 to 68 percent in 2015. For many, the problem is not a question of comfort and privacy but life and death. Improper sanitation leads to the spread of disease and the contamination of drinking water sources. For example, lack of proper water and sanitation facilities can accelerate the spread of diarrhea and pneumonia, two of the top causes of death among children under 5 years of age. “Water and sanitation issues sit at the intersection of environmental and social concerns,” Colpas said. “Lacking water and sanitation solutions contribute to disease, stagnation and the pollution of natural waterways.” Hope for the future Tierra Grata’s unique model not only addresses the immediate need for a facility but recognizes and addresses interrelated concerns — including gender inequality and environmental protection — which ensures more long-lasting success. Creativity and dedication from people like Colpas are promising signs of a more hopeful and equitable future. “There is not a single environmental problem today that cannot be solved through innovation ,” Erik Solheim, executive director of U.N. Environment, said. “Therefore, it is essential that we do everything in our power to empower and motivate young entrepreneurs. When we take advantage of that creativity, we can discover new ways of thinking and new possibilities for a sustainable future in our land.” + Tierra Grata Via U.N. Environment Images via Tierra Grata

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Eco toilets empower women and save nature in Colombia

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

Can Large Solar Farms Create Pollinator Habitat?

September 18, 2018 by  
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Pollinators play a crucial role in ecosystems. They are instrumental … The post Can Large Solar Farms Create Pollinator Habitat? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Can Large Solar Farms Create Pollinator Habitat?

Exotic Natives: Appreciating & Growing Hardy Orchids

September 7, 2018 by  
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Orchids are fancy, exotic flowers that evoke steaming jungles and … The post Exotic Natives: Appreciating & Growing Hardy Orchids appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Exotic Natives: Appreciating & Growing Hardy Orchids

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

Why Chicago is pollinating bee populations

December 8, 2017 by  
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In a fresh spin on “concrete jungle,” urban green spaces are home to conservation efforts that bolster declining bee habitats.

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Why Chicago is pollinating bee populations

LEGO launches Women of NASA set

October 19, 2017 by  
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Trailblazing women who have been instrumental in NASA’s space program are being honored in a special way: as LEGO toys. The company just displayed the final design , with an official launch date for the 231-piece set that includes four women: Mae Jemison, Sally Ride, Margaret Hamilton, and Nancy Grace Roman. Science writer and LEGO tinkerer Maia Weinstock proposed the idea for Women of NASA on the LEGO Ideas platform last summer – and reached 10,000 supporters in 15 days. LEGO designers Gemma Anderson and Marie Sertillanges got on board to help transform the idea into an official set, which will launch November 1. Related: BIG’s LEGO House officially opens to the public in Denmark Sally Ride was the first American woman in space , while Mae Jemison was the first woman of color in space. Nancy Grace Roman was the first woman to hold an executive role at NASA, and was instrumental in planning the Hubble Telescope . Margaret Hamilton “led the team that developed the building blocks of software engineering – a term that she coined herself,” according to NASA . Weinstock said in a statement, “…when girls and women are given more encouragement in the STEM fields, they become more likely to pursue careers in these areas. With this project, I wanted to spotlight a fantastic group of women who have made seminal contributions to NASA history. My dream would be to know that the first human on Mars – or an engineer or computer scientist who helped her get there – played with the LEGO Women of NASA as a child and was inspired to pursue a STEM career as a result.” The original proposal included five women, but according to a LEGO statement, “Katherine Johnson chose not to be part of the set.” If you’re in the New York City area, there will be a pre-release event October 28 at the Flatiron District LEGO store on 200 5th Avenue from 10 AM to 2 PM. You can check out details on the Facebook event page here . Via LEGO and LEGO Ideas Blog Images via LEGO

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LEGO launches Women of NASA set

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