Category Archives: Green Parties

Are polythene tunnels a danger to bumble bees?

I have a 50 foot walk-in polythene tunnel with doors at each end. I grow strawberries in this tunnel. Bees of all sorts are to be encouraged and they more than oblige in pollinating the strawberries. But I have noticed a number of dead bumble bees recently. Notwithstanding the news of a sickness that is killing bees I wonder, in this case, is there a contributing reason for bees dying in polythene tunnels, or at least in my tunnel?

I wonder is heat stress a factor?  I note that the bees freely fly in through the open doors and do their good work among the strawberry plants. But when it is time to leave a problem seems to arise. The bees fly towards the roof of the tunnel expecting to make their way out into the light by that means. Endlessly they push against the polythene here looking for a way out. At the height of summer the heat in a tunnel can be surprisingly high which must add to their distress. This constant searching for a way back out of the tunnel in most cases leads the bees to bump along the roof to eventually find themselves trapped against the vertical one to two feet of polythene above either of the doors. If they would only drop down that two feet they would find their way out the door again.

I have found several dead or dying bumble bees in the tunnel and wonder would this be from their exhaustive efforts in trying to escape from the tunnel? (Honey bees don’t seem to have a difficulty and fly out through the doors without problems.) If this is indeed the case tunnel design that allows an open flap above each door that could be buttoned up in winter might be helpful.

Have any others observed this to be a problem? I would welcome your views.

Polythene tunnel designers might wish to consider this.

Patrick

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GREEN PARTIES – and the missing step!

The aspirations of green political parties, of whatever hue, are based on the premise that people, voters, in influential numbers, will right away subscribe to their policies as being wholesome and good and altogether sensible. Economic downturns have lain this in ruins.

Many years ago I recall a headline in a Florida newspaper – to hell with ecology I want my job. And that is where people, in large numbers, now are. Greens may wish to believe otherwise – but check your polls.

Social changes can suddenly be ‘of their time’ and people in great numbers will willingly flow towards these new ideas with little or no persuasion necessary. Green parties have not yet had that good fortune. Their messages are largely stillborn: not yet of their time.They have had to struggle to be heard and have often stood accused as anti-developers and anti-jobs and anti-tradition. None of which is helpful in furthering a green case.

Carts before horses are at issue here. If green party policies are to be enthusiastically embraced by a scale of numbers that would make a difference then a shift towards a clearer appreciation of the natural world must first be in place. Green politicians have commonly set out their stalls in front of largely indifferent customers not yet willing to ascribe to what is being offered. And what is on offer has been bought into by a disappointing few. That is the dilemma of all green parties. The soil has not yet been adequately tilled out of which green party crops of ideas can grow and flourish.

Nature is its own best salesperson. It has wonderful stories to intrigue us yet the storytellers are too few in number. She displays exquisite beauty of such a nature as to compel us to simply stand and stare and wonder at it all and at our own small existence in all of it. She continually reveals to us her ingenious and inventive mechanisms of coping and surviving and thriving in the most challenging of environments. She discloses for us varied and wonderful interlocking processes that her flowers might be brought the pollen they require. The exquisite love-dances of birds leading to extraordinary architectural nests that young might follow them onto the endless timeline is one more manifestation of the magnificence of this planet. The world is indeed a place of irrepressible wonder whether it be demonstrated in the beguiling behaviour of South African cave crickets or the spore-dispersing structures of soft sphagnum moss.

Centuries of poetry, numerous spiritual texts, and the gifts of musicians in creating ethereal music are all attestations to the wonderful forces of nature that lie all about us – if the rest of us could but see.

Widespread appreciation of the silence of falling snow, the sounds of the movements of different leaves under restless winds, the million songs of meadow insects, need first to be in place before green party movements can hope to succeed in any meaningful sense. Only then will an effective green party’s ‘time have come’.

A quotation here might show how far many of us are now uncoupled from associations with any part of nature. It is a quote from the Lakota:

‘In relation to white minds . . . I have often noticed white boys gathering on a city street, jostling and pushing each other in a foolish manner. . . . their natural faculties neither seeing, hearing nor feeling the varied life that surrounds them.There is about them no awareness . . . and it is this dullness that gives ugly mannerisms full play.’ 

With impoverished awareness as this general to a society how can any green party hope to make progress in the face of such strange detachment? Green parties cannot hope to move from their present place of paralysis until this poverty of connectedness is rectified. No headwind is possible without first addressing this deficiency. If we, as a society, are to be persuaded to conduct our lives and our businesses in a manner that does not put nature in harm’s way it will require the majority of us to be much more fully aware of the beauty and mystery of nature upon which we all depend.

Green parties have been tacking, as best they can, in the choppy waters in the wake of others. If they are to become powerful players in political systems they need to focus their considerable passion and energy on leading societies towards affection for nature so that citizens, in the end, will want to instinctively do what is right by nature. Achieve this and green parties will succeed in becoming sustained and powerful political forces. Then their time will indeed have come. But without this change in society green parties will continue to be viewed as unrealistic, unpractical, anti-business and anti-jobs.

Greens might want to consider this and review their thinking.

(As an after-note on this – those interested might want to read the blog entitled – A Call to all Religions to now Embrace Nature Conservation. This, if taken to heart and acted upon by established churches, would go a long way in helping green parties achieve their ambitions.)

Patrick