Saturday, 6 April 2013

All is not well in the garden!

Well at last, a little bit of warmth, just a little. Amazing what it can do, feels like spring might be springing at last, lets hope so.
As the weather starts to change for the better, many of us will head out to the garden to prepare for the year ahead. This is usually coupled with a trip to the local garden centre for bedding plants, garden tools and bee killing pesticides. Yes, that's right, bee killing pesticides. Even though our lovely little buzzing bees who go around struggling to find nectar rich flowers and help with pollenating in the process, we are unwittingly killing them by spraying our much loved plants with these bug killing pesticides. Many of these pesticides contain chemicals known as neonicotinoids and have been linked to CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder), where for reasons unknown, whole colonies of honeybees have just died. Now you may have just heard/read about this in the news, but it's been something that's been going on for sometime now.
The damage these neonicotinoids could do goes back a long way, back to the 90's in fact. In the U.S. a chemical called imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) was used on oilseed rape. Shortly afterwards local beekeepers reported the loss of a third of their bees in one of the first instances now known as CCD.
In Germany, when a farmer sprayed his field of sweetcorn seeds with a chemical called clothianidin (a neonicotinoid). The local beekeepers reported shortly afterwards that two thirds of their bees had died. When tests were carried out on the dead bees, 99% of them were found to have clothianidin in them. In 2008 Germany banned the use of neonicotinoids (I wish they had called it a much simpler name), as well as France, Italy and Slovenia.
So what do the chemicals do? They are basically nerve agents, they attack the nervous system of the unfortunate insect that comes into contact with it. Even though the chemical is sprayed onto the seeds, it is absorbed through the plant and is evident even in the pollen and nectar of the flowers.
But only farmers use it, right? Wrong. The majority of domestic bug killing sprays out there are likely to contain one, some or all of these evil chemicals: Acetamiprid, imidacloprid, thiacloprid or thiamethoxam, all neonicotinoids.
So who produces such evil stuff? Mainly a company called Bayer. They (along with DEFRA) believe the evidence is flawed and are reluctant to pull the stuff off the shelves. Yet DEFRA openly admit that neonicotinoids will kill bees. They just argue about the numbers of bees it will kill.
I'm a little confused about this statement when you consider how bees work. A bee finds some lovely source of food that, unknown to him, is laced with a neonicotinoid. He buzzes back to the hive and does his little waggle dance telling all the other worker bees "Hey guys, there's some food to be had this way" and points them in the direction of the garden that's been sprayed with some pesticide or the oilseed rape farm down the road. Then all the bees go buzzing off to fill up with neonicotinoids. So DEFRA, surely if it will kill bees, then the numbers of bees it will kill is likely to be high judging by the way the bees hive feed? Am I missing something here???
In fact DEFRA are calling on the EC for a new study to be done so as to   

"... allow informed decision-making, rather than rushing into a knee-jerk ban based on inconclusive studies," 
Shame they didn't have that thinking when it came to the badger cull!

And as for Bayer, they've got another take on it and have produced this little promotion:
Entice the bees in then KILL THEM!!!

BBC news claim that B&Q, Wickes and Homebase have withdrawn any non-professional pesticides that contain neonicotinoids from their shelves, yet when I searched online, some of these products were still being offered for sale by them.
So what can you do? I suggest you just don't buy them, simples. Check the ingredients, if they contain any of the following: Acetamiprid, imidacloprid, thiacloprid or thiamethoxam DON'T BUY IT!
Write to your MP that's what they're paid for or sign a petition by just typing 'neonicotinoids petition' into a google search engine you'll get a choice of petitions to sign. Choose one or choose them all, just make sure you do it. You could also visit The Soil Association for more information on this and some other links. Let 2013 not be another year of disaster for our lovely bees, they need all the help they can get and we can do so much to give that help, lets do it.

A moth! A moth! I've got a moth!!!!

Yes, it's finally happened. Friday's lovely weather during the day tempted me to put the moth trap out in the evening. I knew that the overnight temperature was going to be chilly, but I was optimistic and put it out anyway. come the morning after removing all the egg cartons, there sitting quietly at the bottom of the trap was a wonderful Common Quacker Orthosia cerasi. I was so happy I took some photos. He wasn't the most perfect of specimens, but I wasn't arguing.

Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi (a little battered unfortunately).
O cerasi from the side view (less battered this side).
For the record, this time last year I had trapped over 400 moths! This is my first one this year. 

Well the sun is shining and as I look down at my weather station beside me the temperature is already a warming 14.1ÂșC and rising. So I'm off out to see what I can find. Happy days.

Till next time, take care.

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