Each year, the world produces 300 million tons of plastic, much of which resists degradation and ends up polluting every corner of the globe. But a team of European scientists may have found a unique solution to the plastic problem. They discovered that a common insect can chew sizable holes in a plastic shopping bag within 40 minutes.
“This study is another milestone discovery for the research on biodegradation of plastics,” says Wei-Min Wu, an environmental engineer at Stanford University.
The discovery was led by Federica Bertocchini, a developmental biologist at the University of Cantabria in Spain. She first noticed the possibility as she cleaned out her backyard bee hives two years ago. link to Full story
Please find attached the information for BeeCon 2018. If you would be so kind as to send the information to the members on your data base and any other interested parties. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
KZN Bee Farmers Association
The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health. Vol 386 -November 2015
Loss of pollinators
Good evidence exists that concerns about reductions in both wild and domesticated pollinators are well founded, but multiple factors are implicated.135
For example, widespread population decreases in domesticated honey bees are probably due to a combination of increased exposure to pests and parasites, environmental stressors (including agrochemicals), and reduced genetic diversity.135
Pollination by insects is an important form of reproduction
for at least 87 types of leading global food crops, comprising more than 35% of the annual global food production by volume.136 As such, reductions in the distribution and abundance of pollinators has substantial implications for agricultural productivity and nutrition.137 Depending on dietary composition, up to 50% of the cultivation of plant derived sources of vitamin A requires pollination throughout much of southeast Asia.138 Iron and folate have lower, but still significant pollinator dependence, reaching 12–15% in some parts of the world.138
Smith and colleagues139 report that losses of pollinators could leave hundreds of millions of people at risk of vitamin A and folate deficiencies, and reduce the amount of fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds in the diet. The consequences for global health of such dietary changes would be severe; a 50% loss of pollination is estimated to increase deaths by around 0·7 million annually.
If you don’t understand all the hype about dying bees, consider this: Every third bite of food you take required a bee to pollinate it, and without bees, that food might disappear.
Bees aren’t just an annoying insect that might sting you (in fact, they probably won’t sting you at all). Bees play an enormous role in modern food production, from the transport of over one million honey bee colonies to commercial farms every year to the thousands of native pollinator species that service farms of all sizes. This amounts to $29 billion contributed to farm incomes every year in the U.S. alone; worldwide, that number explodes to around $200 billion.
And that’s not even mentioning the South African honey industry, which is currently thriving but is poised to grow once factors such as extermination and the beekeeping shortage are addressed.
Whether you love or fear bees, there’s no denying it: Bees are a critical part of our food system, and protecting our food security means protecting our bees.
But when the problems of disappearing honey bee colonies and endangered native bee species are so tied with the agricultural sector — after all, it’s common agricultural practices that are doing the most harm to bees — what is the average person to do about it?
The answer? More than you might think.
Saving bees might be one of the easiest causes for the average person to get involved in. Since bee health is tied to agriculture, and we all eat, we have direct influence over the practices that can hurt or harm bees.
So how can you influence bee health with your purchasing power? For starters, supporting the local bees means supporting the local efforts. When protecting the environment is a priority, spending a little more for locally grown, pesticide-free produce makes sense. Consider getting your greenery from the farmers market, a CSA share, or a food co-op instead. In addition, when it comes to stocking up on that tasty honey treat, purchase from local bee farms as opposed to international imports.
But one of the best ways to help bees doesn’t involve a lot of money, and it’s a lot of fun: Plant a garden.
While any garden is a good start, the best kind of garden for bees is a pollinator garden. And if you’ve never touched a garden trowel before, it’s also the best garden to try out your green thumb.
Since pollinator gardens rely on native plants and trees that are already perfectly adapted to your region, they’re hard to mess up. Native plants are species that have evolved to grow in the specific rainfall and soil type of your local environment. That means you don’t have to worry about watering or composting nearly as much as you would with a regular flower or vegetable garden.
Plus, you can create a pollinator garden in any size space. If you live on acreage, commit a section of the property to wildlife habitat filled with native grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees. Even balcony gardens can significantly contribute to the health and wellbeing of the local bee population. You can grow flowering shrubs and wildflowers in containers, cascade native vines out of a windowbox, or even install a hanging garden on an exterior wall.
If you’re ready to dive into creating a pollinator garden, create a plant list that includes native flowers, shrubs, trees, and grasses. Aim to have at least one species flowering in each season except winter, and cluster a few of each plant together to make them easy for hungry bees to find. Incorporate different flower shapes and sizes, and have fun arranging them into a stunning display that you’ll enjoy as much as the bees do.
Image via Unsplash
A little info to help with your honey labels
Like in many other countries, the Republic of South Africa has requirements for the control of the sale of honey or mixtures of bee products. This is administered under Agricultural Product Standards Act, 1990 (Act No. 119 of 1990), Government Notice No. 835 of 25 August 2000. The regulations apply to grading, packaging and marking of honey and mixtures of bee products intended for sale in the Republic of South Africa. South African regulatory requirements on honey and mixtures of bee products are designed to protect consumers, while ensuring fair competition for the industry, including both local and imported products. Please see SABIO for more info
Honey Labels, Requirements
According to the legislation mentioned in the pdf link below, any container with honey or mixtures of bee products intended for sale locally shall be clearly and legibly marked. The prescribed marking requirements are set with the aim of providing the consumer with accurate and relevant information on a product, so as to allow an informed and personal choice to be made. The sketch in the pdf link provides an example of how the container shall be marked.
Thanks to Kai for the pictures as a start. Please don’t forget to submit your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
Southerns is proud to be sponsoring posters of Bees for the education center at Joburg Zoo. The committee has decided to hold a photo competition amongst our members. There will be 2 categories: 1. For A1 size posters, minimum 12 mega pixel cameras. 2. For A2 size posters, cell phone and lesser cameras. We need great pics that explains Bees to kids and adults. Queen , brood,honey, lava, apiary site etc. There will be 19 pics chosen with 3 winners. We need 1 pic of the cycle of life in a separate prize category. The 20 chosen pics will have the photographers’ name put on the poster with the Zoo logo and Southerns logo. Pic MUST be taken by the entrant and NOT copied. All entries to be sent to email@example.com with photographers name and category entered. Closing date is 12 October and winners will be announced at our year end dinner.