Monthly Archives: January 2017

Pollinators and You!

I will be helping to run a pollinator workshop in Castlebar, Co Mayo on the 21st February. This FREE workshop (funded by Mayo County Council, Heritage Office) is ideal for community groups, graveyard committees, Tidy town groups and anyone interested in pollinators. Please book your place as detailed below.

This is an indoor workshop only and will focus on introducing Irish pollinators and the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan with emphasis on community actions. We will look at how simple actions can bring positive results for our local pollinator populations.

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Simple Steps

While there may not be a political will to take climate change seriously, and I am talking as much here about Ireland as other countries, we as individuals can make a difference. You may think – “what can I do?” but you can do lots of simple, little things and if you encourage a friend to follow suit and they in turn encourage another friend, we soon have a movement of people.

So as a first step, find out about your own carbon footprint. There are some good online carbon footprint calculators. Check out WWF Calculator (UK), Carbon Footprint (can choose various countries including USA ),  and Friends of the Earth (Ireland). Depending which one you use you will see where you can make improvements. I wanted to do a graph showing you the different countries but it seems every website I go to shows a different set of figures! So here are the figures from the Friends of the Earth site.

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Here are some of my simple ideas for reducing your carbon footprint.

Food – think where is it coming from

Our food often comes from thousands of miles away. I am as guilty as anyone else with bananas and avocados in my fruit bowl. But that banana traveled over 5000 miles to get here! Perhaps I should just eat more homegrown apples. If you planted an apple tree in your garden. You could walk out, pick the apple of the tree, bring it into the house. So maybe twenty steps! In addition, the apple blossom in early spring is a great food source for pollinators.

Travel

It is not always possible to walk, cycle or take public transport,  but can you combine car trips. So for example,  do your shopping on the way home from work instead of making a special trip. Offer to pick the neighbour’s children up from school when you are picking up your own.

Waste

Of all the carbon issues this is probably one of the ones we in the western world have made most progress.  The majority of people recycle and compost these days and that is great, but we must continue to improve. What I would like to see is more repair shops. So that when the fridge breaks we can get it fixed for the fraction of the cost it would be to buy a new one! Or instead of going out an buying a brand new item consider buying second hand.

Perhaps in the next post I could list some of your suggestions – why not include your favourite carbon busters in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Bees and Climate Change

This morning on the radio they were talking about bumblebees seen on Christmas day around Dublin (Ireland). Female bumblebees should be hibernating during the winter! So what is happening? Has it got anything to do with climate change?

Here in Ireland, we certainly seem to be having milder winters. This year we are fluctuating between cold days and exceptionally mild days (sometimes up to 12 degrees). Bumblebees wake up if it is warm. The problem for a bumblebee waking at this time of year is that it may find it hard to find food. Not many plants flower during the winter and those that do may not have a nectar source. There are some exceptions of course (e.g. Mahonia, winter flowering heather) but often these are not native plants and are only found in gardens. In the UK, there is some evidence that suggests Buff tailed bumblebees are managing to feed winter colonies. However, this is only in areas where there are plenty gardens with winter flowering plants. If you are a bumble that wakes up in the countryside where are you going to find food?

When we have a winter like this one, with fluctuating temperatures, a bee may wake up a number of times. Each time it wakes it uses up vital energy resources. By the time spring really comes the poor bee may be too weak to build a nest, and start a new colony.

Fewer bees means less pollination. Less pollination means less fruit and vegetables and poor quality produce.

Climate change was in the news too this morning, with scientists saying that things may be worse than we thought. The question is where are we heading? And it’s not just bees I am worried about. It’s all of us!