solar farm in oregon tackling fossil fuel dependence and colony loss

posted July 26, 2018

solar apiary
credit: SolarCulture

SolarCulture (a PineGate Renewables project), is an initiative developed to enhance environmental stewardship, promote sustainable agriculture, and collaborate with the community to support research with a goal of encouraging smarter solar through science. They have just recently opened a solar apiary in Jackson County, Oregon. The project is two pronged, it aims to tackle both our fossil fuel dependance as well as our rapidly declining numbers of bees.

After examining the site’s seed mix, vegetation management plan, and early growth of native flowers and grasses, John Jacob of Old Sol Apiaries determined the site would offer safe refuge for his 48 hives of honey bees.

“In 2016/17, Oregon beekeepers reported losing nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies statewide,” said Jacob. “The pollinator-friendly solar sites Pine Gate Renewables is developing can play an important role in helping address the population crisis among our managed and native pollinators.”

Data from the UK shows that pollinator-friendly solar arrays result in increased abundance of bees and other insects, which can provide important pollination and pest management services to crops. “Examining the Potential for Agricultural Benefits from Pollinator Habitat at Solar Facilities in the United States,” a recent peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology, identified more than 16,000 acres of pollinator dependent crops in proximity of 204 megawatts of solar arrays throughout Oregon.

Praised by several of the nation’s most prominent entomologists, including MacArthur “Genius” award recipient Dr. Marla Spivak and Presidential Medal of Science recipient Dr. May Berenbaum, pollinator-friendly solar arrays are different than traditional arrays. Pollinator friendly solar sites use low-growing meadows of native flowers and grasses to enrich top soils, capture storm water, and benefit pollinators. All SolarCulture sites meet the specific criteria established by entomologists to qualify as pollinator-friendly.

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oh boy! check out this treasure trove of apiary wisdom.

posted December 13, 2017

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Once upon a time in a land… not so far from Seattle… lived a man, his wife and their two beautiful young daughters.

One day the man came to his wife and proclaimed that he wanted to be a beekeeper. The wife, completely bewildered by his announcement, looked at her husband and demanded:
“WHY on Earth, would you want to do that?”
After many months of attempting to convince his wife that beekeeping would be fun, educational and beneficial to their family, she finally gave in.

As the winter passed the man and his two daughters’ researched the art of keeping bees, built beehives and prepared to become “backyard beekeepers” in the coming spring.  The two young daughters took a genuine interest in the newfound hobby. Everyday their knowledge and enthusiasm for beekeeping grew until finally one day they made a proclamation of their own:
“Daddy,” the five year old said to the man, “I think sissy and I should be the beekeepers, and you can just kinda stand by and supervise.”

It was that day, which Two Little Ladies Apiary was born.

Check out their site HERE, they have a ton of amazing resources and links for new and old beekeepers alike that range from DIY tips to links to the required legal information for beekeepers and everything in between.

 

 


learn about the history and anthropology of mead with this awesome mead-zine

posted October 5, 2017

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Check out this awesome zine about making mead sent to us by our friend Jonathan Tanis. It starts with an introduction contextualising fermentation as a political act which is both democratizing and embraces the commons, bubbling away with “unrealized possibility” for forming human connections and alliances. It then moves on to explain the historical and anthropological contexts of mead making. Humans have been consuming honey for nearly 9,000 years and mead has featured heavily throughout our civilizations. Naturally there are also instructions and a recipe for brewing your own mead at home!

This is a fascinating and inspiring read full of history, art, poetry and politics, and as the authors say, in this time of global strife and agitation, make mead, not war.

If you or somebody you know is an artist, poet, academic or farmer, and would like to  get involved with future Culture & Agriculture or Agropunk zines, please contact Jonathan at justjontanis@gmail.com.


calling all artists: remembrance day for lost species needs your help!

posted July 7, 2017

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The ONCA are looking for contributions for Remembrance Day for Lost Species 2017. Human created pollution, climate change and deforestation is causing unprecedented species loss. 40% of the wildlife on earth has disappeared in the last 40 years. Remembrance Day for Lost Species is a chance each year to learn and tell the stories of species driven extinct by human activities, and commit anew to what remains.

The theme of this years remembrance is extinction- and pollinators, a topic close to all of our hearts.  Contributions will be shared on the ONCA website, and potentially in the gallery and they welcome all mediums including visual art, performance, creative writing, historical accounts and artefacts. They are also calling for artists, companies, schools and communities to hold memorial events on and around November 30th 2017. These could take the form of processions, “funerals” or participatory events marking the extinction of pollinator species and/or the ongoing threats which human activity poses to surviving pollinators.

If you have a proposal idea or wish to discuss your proposal at any time please contact persephone@onca.org.uk

To read more about Remembrance day click HERE


largest field study of its kind shows that pesticide use is killing bees.

posted July 3, 2017

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We posted last week about a study carried out on bee populations in NNY and the effects that pathogens and parasites are having on bee populations in the region, however it seems as though bee health is the flavour of the month as another, much larger study has just been released which studied the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees and wild bees. While this is not the first study of its kind, and it largely confirms what we already knew, it is more comprehensive than previous lab-based studies  which have indicated that neonicotinoid pesticides cause considerable harm to bee populations and health.

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Northern NY Bee Health Survey Results Reveal Insights Into Colony Loss.

posted June 27, 2017

 

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Bee colony loss is an increasingly serious issue for the entire beekeeping industry causing in some cases an unsustainable loss of 1/3 of beekeepers operations. In response to increasing levels of colony loss, the first ever survey of parasites and pathogens in regional bee colonies has just been carried out and released by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Programme. The survey participants included 31 beekeepers of all stripes, from hobbyists to commercial beekeepers. Project leader Emma Mullen, a Honey Bee Extension Associate with Cornell University, Ithaca, NY explains that “this project documents for the first time the levels of key parasites and viruses in commercial and hobby bee colonies in Northern New York”. The aim of the project was to contribute to regional knowledge of pathogens affecting bees, and to educate regional beekeepers about ways to protect against relevant pathogens relevant to protect against economic and colony loss. The replacement of a colony can cost between $100 and $200.

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more reasons why bees are awesome

posted March 2, 2017

L0008282 The drawings of a bee and its parts.

Bees are awesome. Full stop. Yet here’s more reasons to marvel at our bewinged friends: despite their tiny little brains, they can adapt their behavior, make use of “tools”, and solve more complex problems than we humans originally thought. All with the help of fellow bees or puppets.

Yes, you heard right. Puppets!

In findings recently published in Science, cognitive scientist Clint Perry demonstrated that bees could learn to roll a ball to a designated location in order to receive a delicious reward of sugar water. And if they couldn’t work it out themselves?

If a bee couldn’t figure out how to get the reward, a researcher would demonstrate using a puppet — a plastic bee on the end of a stick — to scoot the ball from the edge of the platform to the center.

“Bees that saw this demonstration learned very quickly how to solve the task. They started rolling the ball into the center; they got better over time,” says Perry.

What’s more, bees watching their cohorts receive these rewards would then adapt their behavior and find ways to get that sweet sugar water faster and more efficiently.

“It wasn’t monkey see, monkey do. They improved on the strategy that they saw,” says Perry. “This all shows an unprecedented level of cognitive flexibility, especially for a miniature brain.”

Click HERE to read or listen to NPR’s story on these smarty bees. They even suggest bees could learn to fetch!


md is the first state to ban bee killing pesticides for consumer use

posted April 8, 2016

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Neonicotinoids are a newer class of insecticides that are chemically related to nicotine. Like nicotine, they act on certain receptors in the central nervous system. In insects, they cause paralysis and death. After becoming concerned about the use of neonicotinoids and the health risks they pose to bees, as well as local waterways and other wildlife, the state of Maryland recently decided they’ve had enough.

Research shows that toxic neonictinoid pesticides not only kill and harm bees, butterflies and birds, they also pose a serious threat to food, public health and other wildlife, and they are playing a significant role in bees dying at alarming rates around the world. According to the Maryland Pesticide Network, beekeepers in Maryland lost 61% of their bees last year, which is about twice the national average.

n an effort to save the honeybee population, the Pollinator Protection Act was created. The act aims to curb consumer purchases of products that contain neonicotinoids, and ensure that consumers are informed when plants have been grown or treated with them.

Maryland lawmakers recently passed bills that would ban stores from selling products laced with neonicotinoids to homeowners. The two bills, SB 198 and HB 211, are expected to be combined into a single piece of legislation for Governor Larry Hogan to sign within the next two weeks. Hogan’s signature would turn Maryland into the first state to ban the harmful pesticides from people who aren’t using them properly. When the law takes effect in 2018, farmers and professionals who have a better understanding of the pesticides and how to apply them in a way that poses a lesser threat to bees would be exempted.

 

To read more, click HERE


sting of the bee, canton, ny, feb 24

posted February 21, 2016

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Join us for this informal monthly gathering of bee enthusiasts – a chat fest of beekeeping information!
We meet on the LAST Wednesday of every month – mark your calendars!  See details below.

All are welcome!  No experience necessary, though if you’re really new to it, reading up some before you come is a good idea so you can have questions in mind to share.

SPECIAL PROGRAM for FEBRUARY 2016 GATHERING:
Apitherapy:
Beehive Benefits to Human Health including Bee Sting/Bee Venom Therapy

During the first half of the usual bee group discussion we will have a special presentation by Bee Group member Sandy vonAllmen!
In the second half we will also discuss the annual co-op purchase of bee packages and nuc’s to restock hives in the Spring.

Presention By: Sandy VonAllmen
Biography:
Sandy VonAllmen is a retired RN who has kept a few beehives since 1998 in order to make good use of some of the health benefits associated with keeping bees.  As her interest in bee venom therapy grew, she took an online Apitherapy Course with a Romanian doctor that expanded her awareness of its benefits.  Sandy will discuss the many benefits to health of many byproducts of the hive and, of course, the most interesting to her being the Bee Sting (Bee Venom) Therapy that she also has the most experience with.

*  “Bee” on the lookout for more in our series of beginner to advanced workshops throughout the year.
*  In Winter we also coordinate a co-op purchase of bee packages and nuc’s to restock hives in the Spring.
*  Check out  “The BeeHive,” our Resource Page!

“Bee” in touch — join us!
Email us at LocalLivingVenture@gmail.com to receive notice of workshops and events.

DONATION
The Discussion Group is on a pass-the-hat, free-will donation basis to support the club and the Local Living Venture workshop programming.  

LOCATION
Betty Evans Community Room in the new wing (left hand door) of the E.J. Noble Medical Bldg., 80 E. Main Street, Canton, NY. (next to the Best Western, across from the Price Chopper on Rt. 11, Canton.)  Usually we post an orange ‘Local Living Workshop Site’ lawn site near the door.

Novice to advanced levels are welcome to attend and share their questions, successes and challenges in a casual group setting. 7 PM, 1 to 2 hours.

Things change.  Please get on our mailing list for the most up-to-date information.
Write to LocalLivingVenture@gmail.com and mention Bees to sign up!


monsanto’s plan to help the honeybee

posted December 4, 2015

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In 2011 Monsanto, the maker of herbicides and genetically engineered seeds, bought an Israeli company called Beeologics, which had developed an RNA interference technology that can be fed to bees through sugar water. The idea is that when a nurse bee spits this sugar water into each cell of a honeycomb where a queen bee has laid an egg, the resulting larvae will consume the RNA interference treatment. With the right sequence in the interfering RNA, the treatment will be harmless to the larvae, but when a mite feeds on it, the pest will ingest its own self-destruct signal.

The specificity and precision of topical RNA interference could be used for other agricultural tricks, including perhaps making weeds once again sensitive to a Monsanto herbicide that they have developed resistance to.

To read one side of the Monsanto bee debate, click HERE. Just be wary.