While we’re on the subject of honeybees, I was recently visited by a swarm!
I came home Tuesday to find a huge cloud of bees all around a magnolia tree by the garage. In less than an hour, they coalesced into a tight ball of bees about the size of a football.
Now, I knew from a lifetime of nature documentaries that honeybees are at their most docile and least likely to sting when they’re swarming. A this time, they are stuffed silly with honey, don’t have any young to protect, and can simply fly away to avoid predators. They’re cruising around with their queen, looking for a new place to build a hive.
I wasn’t worried about them hurting anybody, but I didn’t necessarily want them to take up residence in my garage or attic. So I did what anybody would have done in this situation. I made a Facebook post about it and then googled what to do.
Fortunately, a friend of mine works at the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio. She put me in touch with their Apiarist (beekeeper), who was simply ecstatic to hear that I had a stray swarm and that I hadn’t poisoned it (apparently, lots of people don’t know the difference between honeybees and wasps/hornets/yellowjackets/etc). We set up a time for him to come rescue the swarm, and he even called a couple of students up to share the experience. One of them had been waiting for over two years to go on a swarm rescue run.
He brought out a hive box with some already-combed frames. We cut down the twig the bees had clustered on and dropped it into the box, and they immediately began claiming it as their home. Detecting the wax comb on the frames and recognizing a good hive location, the bees started to emit a lemony “homing” pheromone, letting all of their sisters know to settle down here and start laying down wax.
We kept the hive box overnight to allow errant scouts time to return. He came back the next morning to pick up the hive and take it to a quarantine site, until he could be sure of the bees health and temperament. He even left us a little parting gift from the apiary at Stratford. Everybody kept saying what an absolute treat it was to find and save a swarm, and how rare it was to see them. Provided the hive is healthy, in a month or two, I could go up to the ecological center and visit my bees!
With 40% of honeybee colonies in the US dying in the last year, every bee that can be saved is a small victory. It was a real privilege to witness this event and have a hand in finding a good home for the swarm.
If you see some swarming honeybees in the wild, call a beekeeper! They’ll be grateful to hear from you, and you’ll be doing some good for our pollinator friends!
“I know that in our previous life we were trees, and even in this life we continue to be trees. Without trees, we cannot have people; therefore, trees and people inter-are. We are trees and air, bushes and clouds. If trees cannot survive, humankind is not going to survive either. We get sick because we have damaged our own environment, and we are in mental anguish because we are so far away from our true mother, Mother Nature.”
Mad Max opens on a clear villain: A patriarch with a scary facemask who has built a small society on the foundations of gas, war, and fear. Immortan Joe’s desert Citadel literally farms women, using their bodies to produce and sustain an army of War Boys. In a brief scene that’s now forever seared into my memory, we see a room full of women hooked up to machines that extract their breastmilk, like they’re cows. In addition to using women as heifers, Immortan Joe hoards the natural resources of the earth. His powerful savior-image comes from his control of water that he dishes out to the less fortunate in lavish waterfalls meant to display both his control of the land and its desperate people. Meanwhile, the young men in the Citadel know only violence—there is no space for kindness or compassion when the greatest honor in their lives is to die young in battle.
The link between the exploitation of women and the exploitation of Earth is a connection many people have made—but it’s typically not the driving force behind a blockbuster action film. Instead, this connection is the center of ecofeminist philosophy. As writer and organic farmer Alison Parker articulately summed up for Bitch in 2012, ecofeminist thought sees environmental destruction as a form of violent oppression. “Ecofeminism focuses mainly on likening the oppression of nature to the oppression of women,” writes Parker. “Both environmentalism and feminism are essential building blocks of the fine architecture of a just and healthy society.“
Please stop apologizing for eating animal products in front of us and please stop apologizing for “not being able to offer [us] some”. Most vegans are able to eat animal products but choose not to. Don’t apologize for our life/moral choices.
Veganism is not about the vegan- it is about non-human animals and the earth who are both used and abused.
You mean well but it is both frustrating and saddening to see someone we call our friends have little to no regard for something that often drives us to tears out of frustration.
If you feel even a tiny twinge of guilt about what you are consuming it may be worth exploring why it is you feel this way. We’re here for you to ask questions.
In all of Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history, there were 5 great mass extinctions, the greatest of which was the Permian-Triassic extinction event that killed 96% of all the species that lived 252 million years ago. So great was the carnage that it was nicknamed The Great Dying. SciShow gave a great video regarding these mass extinctions.
And now we are undergoing a 6th extinction event - the Anthropocene Extinction. As humans we don’t want to be burdened by the fact that we are causing rapid changes to the Earth and causing so many species to disappear to the point that we deny it even in the face of overwhelming evidence. We want to deflect the blame to something else - anything but us.
But surely we are better than this. We are humans; we are descended from these few but great survivors of the past. We have evolved to the point that we can wonder about our place in the cosmos and we’re using that curiosity to drive our knowledge forward. We pride in our intelligence and even use it as the one defining thing that separates us from the rest. In Carl Sagan’s words:
Our intelligence and our technology have given us the power to affect the climate. How will we use this power? Are we willing to tolerate ignorance and complacency in matters that affect the entire human family? Do we value short-term advantages above the welfare of the Earth? Or will we think on longer time scales, with concern for our children and our grandchildren, to understand and protect the complex life-support systems of our planet? The Earth is a tiny and fragile world. It needs to be cherished. [Source]
Currently living and working in the idyllic town of Urtijëi, Italy, sculptor Willy Verginer shares a closeness with his environment in both technique and concept. His surreal wooden sculptures are carved from a single linden tree trunk with incredible precision and detail. Although their features are classical, Verginer paints bold stripes of color across his figures and poses them in awkward positions, making them completely contemporary. Previously covered here, he’s often paired his figures of women, men, and young children with other animals and objects that don’t fit together. His most recent pieces, which are on currently view at Galerie Van Campen & Rochtus in Belgium, pairs them with oil barrels.
“We as a culture are forgetting that we are actually natural organisms and that we have this very, very deep connection and contact with nature. You can’t divorce civilization from nature - we totally depend on it.”
“The thing is, I DO care about the environment but I cannot stand it when white people pretend they are all connected to the earth and refuse to understand that many of us — Migrant Brown People — come from backgrounds where ‘environmentalism’ is not talked about because we grow up doing unintentional 'green’ things.”
Are we going to let capitalism destroy life on Earth?
According to 99 percent of climate scientists – we’ll know by the end of the century.
Scientists have agreed for three decades about what is causing
atmospheric temperatures to rise – humans are burning Earth’s carbon
resources to fuel economic activity.
But even before we knew what was causing the temperature to rise –
scientists warned about the dire global impacts of a two degree increase
in atmospheric temperatures.
Earth’s climate has been basically stable for hundreds of thousands of years.
But that changed during the industrial revolution - when Great Britain realized the potential of coal-powered steam engines.
Soon continental Europe and the US followed suit.
And more than 150 years later – coal, oil and natural gas dominate
the global politics and economics: wars are fought over oil; communities
are destroyed for coal; and increasingly scarce water supplies are
poisoned by natural gas extraction.
The Earth has already warmed about one degree Celsius above
pre-industrial levels - which means we have to change our energy system
completely before the Earth warms another degree in order to avoid the
catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Is it possible?
Scientists say “Yes!” - BUT it will require us to take bold and immediate steps towards a completely renewable energy system.
The technology exists – the shortfall is in investment.
According to the IMF – oil companies get $5.3 trillion in subsidies worldwide per year.
And the oil companies pay only a portion – if any – of the
environmental costs of ripping fossil fuels from the ground and burning
the CO2 into the atmosphere.
In other words, every living human being and government are paying
for coal, oil, and gas companies to profit from the destruction our
And that’s not a market failure – that’s how the market was set up.
Capitalism as we know it isn’t the solution – it’s the problem.
In a report in “Nature Climate Change” – scientists point out that we
can keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius – if every country
takes bold and immediate action to deploy current clean energy and limit
the use of fossil fuels.
The biggest failure in our system is that there is no price on carbon.
Burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon into our atmosphere has
very real costs that corporations aren’t paying for – costs that are
being kicked down the road for future generations.
In the US, we’ve let the fossil fuel industry become so profitable
that it relentlessly funds campaigns and lobbies to keep oil subsidies
in place and weaken environmental regulations - all at the expense of
our communities and our planet.
Our current oligarchs claim that renewable power isn’t efficient or
cheap enough to be competitive or to reliably replace fossil fuels – but
that’s just not true.
Solar, wind, and wave technology are all ready to be deployed at
large scales – and Denmark, Germany, the UK and China, among others, are
doing it right now.
Our transportation system is ready for renewables – solar roadways in
the Netherlands are proving more effective than expected – and over two
dozen models of electric cars are now out on the market.
Our households are ready for renewables: LED lightbulbs and high
efficiency appliances mean that households use less energy – and
affordable rooftop solar means that households can meet a lot their own
We can make renewables competitive if we just cut subsidies to oil
and coal companies and enforce our clean air and clean water regulations
– but that means getting money out of politics so that legislation is
written in the interest of communities and the planet - instead of
Capitalism is great at creating profits and products – but it doesn’t care about environmental justice.
Capitalism doesn’t care whether we restore our forests and soils so
that the planet can begin to reabsorb the carbon we’ve dumped into the
Capitalism doesn’t care whether streams are poisoned or if the air is
noxious – it doesn’t care if a river burns because of pollution – and
it doesn’t care if another technology is ‘cleaner’ - unless the 'dirty’
option becomes unprofitable.
That’s why we need both more regulation of the fossil fuel industry -
and public investments into clean energy like solar and wind.
Capitalism is to make money - but a government like our republic is
put into place to protect the people from those whose quest for money
harms society. We cannot replace democratic government with capitalism –
and climate change proves this.
In fact - climate change challenges capitalism at its very root – is
an economy really growing when all the costs are dumped on society while
a handful of corporations and billionaires take all the profits?
Science says that we can keep global temperatures from rising another
half degree – but it can’t be left to a private sector that makes its
profits from leaving the costs to everybody else.
It’s time for a New Green Deal – we need to stop directly and
indirectly subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and we need to invest in
a large-scale deployment of current clean energy technologies – one
that will create permanent, sustainable jobs, and protect the Earth for