Bees and neonicotinoids – another twist in the tale.

To the agrochemical companies and to many farmers they are essential tools ensuring efficient crop production. To environmentalists and to many bee scientists they are dangerous chemicals contributing to declining bee populations. I am talking, of course, about the neonicotinoid insecticides widely used in this country to control insect pests. Last week two papers were … Continue reading Bees and neonicotinoids – another twist in the tale.

Perfect poisons for pollinators – available from your local garden centre

We try to make our garden welcoming for bees by growing flowers that provide pollen and nectar throughout the season. We also have some unkempt areas they might want to nest in and we don’t use any pesticides. I enjoy watching the bees foraging on the flowers as they come in to bloom and currently … Continue reading Perfect poisons for pollinators – available from your local garden centre

Bees in a landscape

I’ve always loved visiting galleries, discovering what an artist has created, but in the first week of May, the tables were turned.  For the first time, I was on the other side presenting a joint exhibition with my artist wife, Hazel.   We called the exhibition, “Bees in a Landscape”, and it was based around Hazel’s … Continue reading Bees in a landscape

The music of place, the place of nature

The Northumbrian pipes carried the melody at first but gradually this was passed to the other instruments: a harp, a cello, an accordion, creating an unexpected sound-fusion of classical and folk music. As those first few magical notes echoed around the medieval hall, I knew this would be a special evening and we were treated … Continue reading The music of place, the place of nature

500 dead bumblebees – the chemical blitz of modern farming

In September I wrote about the mysterious death of 500 bumblebees. New information has emerged about this incident so I have rewritten the post: Earlier this year, Sheila Horne was walking at Hacton Parkway, a public park and conservation area in Havering, East London. April is normally a good time to see insects in their … Continue reading 500 dead bumblebees – the chemical blitz of modern farming

500 dead bumblebees – pesticides leave their deadly trace

Earlier this year, Sheila Horne was walking at Hacton Parkway, a public park and conservation area in Havering, East London. April is normally a good time to see insects in their prime so she was very surprised to find many dead and dying bees near the path. She alerted local naturalist, Tony Gunton who identified … Continue reading 500 dead bumblebees – pesticides leave their deadly trace

Disturbing the natural order – the case of neonicotinoid insecticides and farmland birds

  One of my favourite nature writers is Mark Cocker who has the ability to capture a scene or an idea in a few hundred words. Despite his immense knowledge he never loses his sense of awe and with clever use of metaphor, his descriptions of nature leap in to life. Here is Cocker writing … Continue reading Disturbing the natural order – the case of neonicotinoid insecticides and farmland birds

Bumblebee tales and insecticide issues.

Here is an article I wrote for the February 2014 edition of the Marshwood Vale Magazine Late December is a low time of year for wild life, so I was surprised to see several fat, stripy bumblebees out foraging in both Dorset and in Devon when the weather allowed. According to the textbooks they should … Continue reading Bumblebee tales and insecticide issues.

The tortuous tale of bees and insecticides

2012 may be seen as the year when it finally dawned on people in the UK that bees needed protection.  High profile campaigns were launched by Friends of the Earth, by the Soil Association and by Buglife aimed at raising awareness of the threats bees face.  Several scientific studies were published showing that the behaviour … Continue reading The tortuous tale of bees and insecticides

A “Perfect Storm” for the bees

This piece is from the July edition of the Marshwood Vale Magazine.  The Magazine is published in Bridport so the piece has a Dorset focus. For more about bees see my earlier post. Hardy’s “Under the Greenwood Tree” contains an amusing but surprising description of honey-taking in 19th century rural Dorset.  Honey-taking in those days … Continue reading A “Perfect Storm” for the bees