Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Let There Bee Magic

image from here

Have you heard about the plight of the bees?  They are disappearing .. yes literally, disappearing! It's like a mysterious horror film,  there are no bodies!   Entire colonies of bees disappearing.  No bodies, no apparent causes, no evidence ... nothing!   Do you know that some scientists are saying that if all the bees die, then so do we!  A chilling thought.

It has been reported this year, that the USA has suffered losses for the third year running, of a third of their native honey bee population - that's alorralorralorra bees!  Our British bees are slightly - but only slightly - better off.  More bees survived our winter than expected, but we are still losing more colonies than is comfortable, instead of 7-8% loss in a normal winter, we are losing around 17%.  It's too much.

The latest thoughts are that bees brains are being damaged by pesticide cocktails which are affecting them in such subtle ways that we haven't noticed, but it means that they have become unable to communicate with eachother, or navigate effectivily to reach any food sources.  This explains the 'no body' syndrome - bees could just  be dropping where they are from starvation or exhaustion.  It's an idea which has been given lots of funding but hasn't been explored properly yet.  I'm hoping they've found at least the germ of the cause though, because a world without bees, is no world at all.

Sometime last year, I watched a programme by Sarah Raven in which she described  a "River of Flowers"  where, in order to save our disappearing native meadow plants and to create nectar rich corridors for our bees, butterflies and birds, we plant wild and native flowers wherever we can, to bridge the gaps between meadows caused by urbanisation.  Why restrict this idea to native and wild plants?  Any flowers are better than no flowers, and any bees are better than no bees.    Without honey bees and other insects to pollinate our crops, a huge part of the food chain collapses, and our planet changes beyond anything we could easily cope with.

This year, I am mostly inspired by the wonderful Alys Fowler and her Edible Garden series - I know lots of you have been as glued to it as I have been, and although i've been living the 'grow your own/simple things' lifestyle for years, there is still much to inspire here, because Alys is so passionate about her craft, she passes on her knowledge and new ideas, generously, effortlessly and in such a convincing way, that she has me pulling on my wellies faster than you can say 'pass the trowl'. 

image from here

As we hurtle towards the first harvests, we can use our intention to create a mass of energy for bee preservation.  We swap seeds, we plant flowers and food, we share hints and tips and recipes,  we provide lots of pesticide free nectar for the bees in our gardens, our environments, our communities, and by doing so, improve the wider environment for all pollinating insects and therefore preserve our own quality of life. 

In summary, this is an opportunity to make some magic happen.  

Magic is intention to create change.   

To make this magic we share the gift of life by sharing flower seeds from our gardens, and food seeds from our vegetable plots,  all bound with the intention that bees everywhere survive the strange phenomenon which is killing them, so that we and the world may never hunger.  

By planting wherever we can and however we can, we can each contribute to helping our bees cope with the pressures of life in the 21st century, and by planting seeds which will grow into food we can eat, we can not only see the results of the bees work first hand and the importance of what they do, we can also ease the carbon burden on our world and stimulate our tastebuds!  The bonus to all of this is that we can feel the ultimate satisfaction of being able to survive in spite of Tesco!

Lets do some magic for the bees and swap some seeds again! Here are the rules - much the same as last year:

Please include in your package:
  • Flower seeds and vegetable seeds from your garden or your neighbourhood ie: not from a packet - don't feel you have to send a whole field load!! A couple varieties of each will be fine.
  • A recipe for the harvest should also be included
  • Your favourite organic gardening tip
  • Something crafty in your parcel which has a 'bee' theme.  This can be a homemade gift, or some crafty bee inspired bits which your swap partner can make things with.

I have made am making a button which I will put up later today, or tomorrow - please put this on your blog and spread the word!  I would really love lots of people to sign up for this.  

In the meantime,  Bee articles of interest:

Extract from the book "A World Without Bees"
Shock figures from America - article about the US bee decline
Bee Part of it - BBC campaign with Spring Watch
Bee decline could be down to chemical cocktail - article posing the idea that it could be pesticides
Action not Research is Needed to Save our Polinators - article outlining better ways to spend the £10m which has been put aside for research into the bee decline.
Is there any hope out there for our bees? - an invitation to send in bee stories
Bee decline threatens our dinner - old article from The Telegraph in 2007
Google "bee decline" - for scary reading!


dubgirl said...

good post and thought-provoking, the loss of the bees is worrying, I have read that if the bees go, then due to the lack of the pollinators the human race will be in the whole apocolytic, disaster movie scenario within 4 years!

Pink Feather Paradise said...

I think a lot of people also don't realise that some species of bees live underground and when they see bees dissapearing into small holes in their lawns and borders they fill in the holes... I watched a big fluffy bumble bee the other day as it buzzed merilly all over my honeysuckle and it flew clear over my house... I was so impressed... also if a fluffly bee gets wet when you water your plants it cannot fly and will more than likely die... my mum use to collect seeds in the little film canister pots and when she went for a walk in the lanes she would sprinle the seeds in the hedgerows and verges... spread the love!

x Alex

Kitty said...

Interesting post, Julia. As someone who has honey every single day (I believe it's good for us) bees are important to me. I am trying to make a garden here with some very bee-friendly flowers - I want them to visit here so will be doing everything I can to engineer that. x

Diane said...

In my local museum they are looking into the fact that mobile phones may be causing a problem. I try to encourage bees in my garden - the program I watched said that blue flowers attract bees, and I must admit that they do seem more attracted to the blue flowers. However I have a lot of beighbours who have paved all their gardens and just have a couple of pots - which I dont think help matters. xxxxx

lizzie_fitz said...

Hey, me and mum signed up for the save the bees campaign who sent us free seeds...cant remember the website, but its good!

iv reblogged this here > http://thatlizkid.blogspot.com/2010/06/bee-happy.html


Toria said...

What they don't tell you is that a lot of the bees that are disappearing are the bees 'employed' by companies to make honey for sale. They're transported across the country throughout the year and are expected to continually churn out honey from each location. It's contradictory to the bees nature and probably isn't helping the situation! Support local honey producers who are more likely to keep bees in a more natural way. And, of course, plant as many flowers as you can! Honey isn't just tasty, it's a natural antiseptic and a natural spermicide (betcha didn't know that, huh?). It can help reduce hayfever if a local honey is eaten and is an excellent substitute for sugar as I'm sure everyone knows. I think we shouldn't just be campaigning for more flowers but also perhaps better treatment of worker bees in large honey corporations (and I can't believe I just typed that either!)

Vanilla Rose said...

As someone who DOESN'T eat honey, I would like to say that bees are important. Although I think I saw on TV that we wouldn't actually die out without them. Am not keen to take the chance, though.