A brief update on the ‘Vanishing of the Bees’

The documentary was released in 2009 but the issue is on-going. UK and US bee populations have declined by 50% in the last 25 years. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating at least 80% of the world’s crops. Without their industrious services, pollinating up to 18,000 plants in a day, food prices would soar dramatically. Therefore farmers are reliant on bees, yet the pesticides they use are considered one of the main causes of the widespread phenomena, Colony Collapse Disorder, that has hit the States most significantly from 2006.
Independent academic research in the UK and France has found that ‘neonicotinoids’ in pesticides, are harmful to bees nervous systems effecting their memory and mobility. Results from the research showed that a third of the colony exposed to neonicotinoids were unable to find their way back to the hive, as well as an 85% decline in the survival of the Queen Bee each year.
This research has not been validated by the current UK government who are propping up insecticide manufacturers Syngenta and Bayer CropScience findings, which conclude that ‘neonicotinoids do not pose an unacceptable risk to honeybees’. None of this research has been publicly disclosed for review.
Last year the EU enforced a two year suspension on the use of neonicotinoids, although the UK were against the ban. This decision will be up for review again at the beginning of 2015.
Protecting pollinators and our food from these damaging chemicals is far from accomplished.

WHAT WE CAN DO IN THE MEANTIME:
In the meantime grow more bee-friendly plants to increase bee habitats.
Buy fruit and vegetables from The Co-operative and Waitrose who are both committed to sourcing their fresh produce from suppliers who do not use harmful pesticides.
Or start learning how to become a beekeeper through a local mentoring programme or by doing a course.

One of the most striking things I took away from the documentary were the numerous (some perhaps a bit far-fetched) parallels between problems afflicting bees and our own human plight.
– Commercial bees are fed on sugar syrup rather than being allowed to feed on their own honey, much like our reliance on manufactured sugars rather than natural sugars we have grown ourselves.
– We both suffer from the sprays we put on crops, which have transmitted various diseases into the food chain.
– The female role of queen bee is undermined as commercial bee keepers replace them with new younger, more efficient queens each year. A reflection of how women are commonly upgraded today, and how female qualities are often undermined in the workplace. ( the disempowerment of the sacred feminine at large in society)
– Bees are now farmed and exported miles overseas to pollinate crops far from their natural habitats, which disorientates them and makes them less effective. Similarly the human mass-migration we are witnessing in the last century, of displaced communities and enclaves of people uprooted from their indigenous landscape, has effected peoples coping mechanisms and livelihoods, estranged and far from their home culture.

Simply observing the bees appears to be the key to understanding what is wrong and what can be done. One academic even said that from observation it is clear the bees have all the answers and reflect that the problem is far more multi-faceted and complex than first appears. It is not simply about eliminating the use of neonicotinoids but changing the whole complex system by which we are currently sustaining life on planet earth.

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Chugging shouldn’t feel like charity mugging… A bit of rant

I have done cold calling for a spell but I haven’t been a street fundraiser or chugger as they are referred to these days (charity mugger or hugger – which ever you prefer!) However I have been on the receiving end enough times to consider how I might be more inclined to stop.

It is not that I (and many passersby) don’t care, albeit being a highly de-sensitised society in general. I think it is more often due to the rehearsed nature of what ensues and that overwhelming sense of being caught in a web of strategies geared towards easing money from your pocket.

Being spieled at is off-putting. It feels contrived and anonymous, and with anything these days people want individual bespoke attention. Perhaps it is better not to prep fundraisers too much on the amount of facts to stuff in people’s ears or engaging ways to reach out, allowing for some natural flow of conversation where the fundraiser responds to people and listens to their questions rather than reeling off the charity line. The fundraiser needs to offer more options to suit any kind of time constraints or inquiry and less tools to trap you in conversation. A flyer with info on how to donate via text, so people can sign up to a monthly donation via a series of text instructions when they are on the bus/train later with time to consider it properly.

I think the one-off texts to donate are a really good idea – non-committal and conveniently fast to do. However the follow-up calls to applaud your generosity, pandering to your willingness to give, might make me think twice about doing it again. Being persistently told how generous I was after giving £2 to Oxfam seemed a bit over the top. Of course this only led to being asked to sign up to giving a monthly donation. After saying no once, you should not then be asked to sign up to a smaller donation each month unless the person asks if this is possible. It is hard enough saying no once but then to have to persistently explain why you can’t cough up, makes you more likely not to bother being troubled again next time.

I can’t imagine there are many people who enjoy walking past street fundraisers, sometimes outrightly ignoring their pleas and yet we all have to do it. There must be a more effective way of fundraising in this hyper-digitalised age. More and more people are able to select online where they would like to donate, in their own time, that relate to their own experiences and passions. Surely this way of donating needs to be encouraged rather than spending money on chasing and convincing people to give.