Give and Grow, Sunday 1st May 11am-1pm

Following last years successful event we are holding another plant swap in the library courtyard over the bank-holiday weekend. Bring along your surplus seed, seedlings or plants**  for others to take, and pick up something you fancy at the same time! There will be a hubbub of garden chat, exchange of information and ideas, and no money will change hands (except to buy a cup of tea and cake perhaps).

Coley built a unit from recycled materials for displaying plants and produce on the permanent stand which has been in place since last summer. We hope that this event will also encourage people to make more use of this facility, with the idea of encouraging exchange, reducing waste, and showing casual visitors some of the benefits of local production and consumption of seasonal fruit and veg.

If you’d like to display a poster you can download a pdf. for home printing HERE

** Dropoffs can be made the previous day (Saturday 30th) or from 10am on the day.

Save Bungay Library: Telling Tales | 26th March

Telling Tales: 26th March, 11am – 2.30pm

We’ve invited two storytellers and two poets to Bungay library. They will perform their work and create stories in the gallery (and perhaps the garden if the sun is out).

The stories will catch the imagination of adults and children alike and we hope they will inspire us to imagine a positive future for the library – perhaps a time when the current threat to the library is woven into Bungay’s own oral tradition!

John Row| Storyteller |

David Shaw | Storyteller|

Our two poets will perform work that should fire us up and get us thinking about what’s happening to public services in Suffolk – and why. I have a feeling they’ll make us laugh too…

Paul Birtill | Poet and Playwright |

Luke Wright | Poet |

Luke Wright has written a poem about the library closures and posted it on his website, he’ll read it on the 26th.

At the same time we want to collect some oral histories of Bungay library and books in Bungay. We’ll have some recording equipment and would love to hear from anyone who has memories of people like Kathleen Bowerbank, or of the old library in Bungay, the print works, bookshops in the town or anything similar. We’d also like some personal reflections; books and poems that changed your life, libraries you’ve visited in other parts of the world and, in keeping with the theme of our scrap book, thoughts about what Bungay library means to you.

As with the scrapbook (below) these recordings will form part of an ongoing archive documenting the importance of the library to people in Bungay.

You can download a poster for the event here

Counting Varroa

Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

Just under a week ago on a beautiful sunny, warm day (do you remember it? It was one of only two so far this year) I had the pleasure of visiting our five hives to check on stores (plenty) and to pop clean boards under the mesh floors. This is one of the better ways of guess-timating varroa mite levels in the hive. Essentially one counts the number of mites that fall onto the board over a five to seven day period and divide by the number of days. With reference to a table compiled by FERA (the food and environment research agency) showing the critical numbers of mites dropping per day it is easy to judge whether or not treatment is required.

So – the good news is that three hives had absolutely no mites on their boards at all, while one had an average drop of 1.6 mites, which is OK for now. The bad news is that the other hive had an average mite drop of 6 mites a day. I think we will have to take action, but can’t do anything until it warms up a little as there should now be brood in the hive. Interestingly (although not perhaps surprisingly), this last hive was the one I found difficult to treat with oxalic acid earlier in the year.

Lots of other ‘stuff’ was also on the boards, most notably yellow pollen (seen being taken in by the bees last week) and white wax scales.

An Ash of Dewey Decimals

Bungay based poet and library supporter Luke Wright has penned a poem about the library closures, he’s also written some of his own thoughts about Bungay library and the prospect of it closing here and been speaking up for it on local and national radio – Thanks Luke!.

He’s planning to read the new poem at Telling Tales, the next Save Bungay Library event (26th March, 11am-2:30pm).

An Ash of Dewey Decimals

In county halls across the land
the snakes who make two hundred grand
are rolling out a gruesome plan
to close the libraries.

The type who’s names appear on plaques
cry Prudence! as they strike a match
then hold it to a paperback
and something dies in me.

The misspelled writing’s on the wall
they’ll sell the land for shopping malls
an ash of Dewey Decimals
it makes good business sense.

Now reading groups and learning schemes
and safety nets for falling teens
are charcoal in a jack-boot dream
of raging discontent.

Meanwhile these lords in second homes
will whisper in their mobile phones
and purchase shares in Waterstones
Hurrah! A bumper year!

They gurn and cheer as Britain chokes
and public welfare sadly smokes:
We’re all in this together, folks!
Just drown yourself in beer.

And those who think these lines contrived
come here and look me in the eyes
and tell me this is civilised
don’t try to lie to me.

You damn the kids in rural towns
whose shoulders are not fit for gowns
you keep them thick and keep them down
in your Big society.

Give and Take Day : Saturday 19th March

The posters advertising the Spring 2011 Give and Take Day are up around town and, as with the last two it already seems to be capturing people’s imaginations.

So start sorting out all those boxes at the back of the garage / shed / attic and deciding whether you’ve got any big bits of furniture you’d like us to collect on the Friday before the event (click on the poster for contact details).

Perhaps the one downside of using the Give and Take to declutter your life is that you’re bound to take home as much as you brought!

In addition to the Give and Take we’re hoping to show some short (ten minute) films about waste and recycling and provide more information about the four Rs of consumption (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink).

Give and Take Day
10 – 1 Saturday 19th March (large items can be collected for free on the 18th)
The Chaucer Club

Green Drinks: Zero Waste Bungay

Green Drinks:

Zero Waste Bungay

Tuesday 15th March, 7:30pm at the Green Dragon

For this weeks Green Drinks and in preparation for the Give and Take Day we’ve invited Karen Alexander to talk to us about her community interest company Wombling which runs a sort of year-round give and take (augmented by training on repairing and reusing) in Norwich and Jules Shorrock of  VC Cooke a Beccles based recycling company who are working towards creating a zero waste site and offer advice and incentives to encourage businesses and communities to do the same.

Give and Take

This Saturday Sustainable Bungay is holding its third Give and Take Day at the Chaucer Club. We’ll be inviting people to bring along things they no longer want or need and if they see something else they want to take it home with them – all for free. So far we’ve seen pretty much everything except a kitchen sink come in through the door with one person and leave with another; from surf boards to sofas and books to bikes – we’re never left with much more than a bit of tidying up to do at the end of the day.

Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle… (in that order!)

The Give and Take Days have far exceeded our expectations and so far we’ve ensured that almost 20 tonnes of potential landfill has found a new home. But this is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of waste generated by Bungay and the surrounding villages – according to the Office for National Statistics every one of us generates almost half a tonne of household waste every year – around 2,500 tonnes for Bungay alone (and that doesn’t include trade waste, DiY and building waste and the waste public services generate on our behalf).

Cradle to Cradle thinking

Recycling is increasing and Waveney has a good record for increasing and improving recycling rates, but it still remains low by European standards. But recycling is about the end of a products’ life and before we even consider it we should think about buying less in the first place and then extending the life of the things we do buy – repairing them, reusing and them passing them on to others. There is a lot that product designers could do to help us with this by, for example, creating things that need less packaging, last longer, are easy to repair and reuse; so called cradle to cradle thinking.

Zero Waste Bungay

It’s pretty clear that we are still a long way from cradle to cradle approaches to consumer goods – we probably won’t ever get there but a zero waste Bungay might just be possible if we start to redefine our waste – it’s not rubbish, it’s resources; our resources and we should think twice before throwing them away.

As ever Green Drinks will begin with short talks from our expert conversationalists Karen and Jules, there will then be time for more general questions and discussions. Anything could come up (it usually does) but the conversations might include:

  • What would a Zero Waste town look like?
  • Would Karen’s Wombling business work in Bungay – is it the next step beyond the Give and Take?
  • How could we work with companies like VC Cooke to reduce waste in Bungay?
  • How does closing the Beccles recycling site (albeit reprieved for 6 months) fit in with Suffolk County Councils recycling targets and how might the site fit in with our future plans?

As ever we look forward to seeing you tomorrow night.

Best wishes,

Josiah (and all the Green Drinks organising team)

UNEP report into causes of Pollinator losses

Bees Under Bombardment: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report shows multiple factors are behind pollinator losses.

The full report as a pdf can be found here, the following is the summary from the UNEP website:

Geneva/Nairobi, 10 March 2011 – More than a dozen factors, ranging from declines in flowering plants and the use of memory-damaging insecticides to the world-wide spread of pests and air pollution, may be behind the emerging decline of bee colonies across many parts of the globe.

Scientists are warning that without profound changes to the way human-beings manage the planet, declines in pollinators needed to feed a growing global population are likely to continue.

. New kinds of virulent fungal pathogens-which can be deadly to bees and other key pollinating insects-are now being detected world-wide, migrating from one region to another as a result of shipments linked to globalization and rapidly growing international trade

. Meanwhile an estimated 20,000 flowering plant species, upon which many bee species depend for food, could be lost over the coming decades unless conservation efforts are stepped up

. Increasing use of chemicals in agriculture, including ‘systemic insecticides’ and those used to coat seeds, is being found to be damaging or toxic to bees. Some can, in combination, be even more potent to pollinators, a phenomenon known as the ‘cocktail effect’

. Climate change, left unaddressed, may aggravate the situation, in various ways including by changing the flowering times of plants and shifting rainfall patterns. This may in turn affect the quality and quantity of nectar supplies.

These are among the findings of a new report published today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which has brought together and analyzed the latest science on collapsing bee colonies.

The study, entitled Global Bee Colony Disorders and other Threats to Insect Pollinators, underlines that multiple factors are at work linked with the way humans are rapidly changing the conditions and the ground rules that support life on Earth. It shows humans’ large dependency on ecosystem services even for such vital sectors as food production.

It indicates that bees are early warning indicators of wider impacts on animal and plant life and that measures to boost pollinators could not only improve food security but the fate of many other economically and environmentally-important plants and animals.

The authors of the report call for farmers and landowners to be offered incentives to restore pollinator-friendly habitats, including key flowering plants including next to crop-producing fields.

More care needs to be taken in the choice, timing and application of insecticides and other chemicals. While managed hives can be moved out of harm’s way, “wild populations (of pollinators) are completely vulnerable”, says the report.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century. The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees”.

“Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people”.

Bees and the Green Economy

Next year nations gather again in Rio de Janeiro, 20 years after the Rio Earth Summit, to evolve international efforts to achieve sustainable development including through accelerating and scaling-up a transition to a low carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy.

Part of that transition should include investing and re-investing in the world’s nature-based services generated by forests and freshwaters to flower meadows and coral reefs.

“Rio+20 is an opportunity to move beyond narrow definitions of wealth and to bring the often invisible, multi-trillion dollar services of nature-including pollination from insects such as bees- into national and global accounts,” said Mr Steiner.

“Some countries, such as Brazil and India, have already embarked on that transformation as part of a partnership between UNEP and the World Bank. It is time to widen and embed this work across the global economy in order to tip the scales in favour of management rather than mining of the natural world and that includes the services of pollinators,” he added.

The new report on bee colony disorders has been led by researchers Dr Peter Neumann of the Swiss Bee Research Centre and Dr Marie-Pierre Chauzat of the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety. The team also included Dr Jeffrey Pettis of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Dr Neumann said: “The transformation of the countryside and rural areas in the past half century or so has triggered a decline in wild-living bees and other pollinators. Society is increasingly investing in ‘industrial-scale’ hives and managed colonies to make up the shortfall and going so far as to truck bees around to farms and fields in order to maintain our food supplies”.

“This report underlines that a variety of factors are making these man-made colonies increasingly vulnerable to decline and collapse. We need to get smarter about how we manage these hives, but perhaps more importantly, we need to better manage the landscape beyond, in order to cost-effectively recover wild bee populations to far healthier and more sustainable levels,” he added.

Birdbox camera in the Library Courtyard

Latest development in the Community Garden at Bungay Library is a high-resolution camera situated in a cedar birdbox located on one of the pillars. A cable runs into the library where a TV monitors activity inside the box. Thanks to Kristian, Richard and Nick for procuring and installing this equipment and to Bungay Lions for donating the funds.

Regret to say our application to Anglia C0-op Community Fund for a retractable awning was unsuccessful.

Varroa Research

Last night I attended the Suffolk Beekeepers Association AGM, which was as AGM’s tend to be, but had the added attraction of Ricarda (Ricky) Kathay, Phd student. Suffolk Beekeepers are part-funding the research project into varroa destructor that she is working on – and it’s fascinating stuff.

A little background about varroa: it is a parasitic mite that lives on honey bees and feeds on haemolymph (equivalent of blood) by making holes through the cuticle (skin). It stresses and weakens the bees making them susceptible to other pathogens. More specifically it sometimes transmits a virus that deforms their wings, thereby making them unviable. It breeds in sealed brood cells, feeding on the developing pupa, preferring the larger and longer developing drone brood.

And so to the research (extremely briefly): The initial question posed was ‘why don’t the honey bees seem to detect these relatively huge mites’. Bees recognise one another by sensing a chemical profile of hydrocarbons (alkanes and alkenes) and fatty acids secreted onto a waxy layer on their cuticle (skin). It is possible that the varroa mites mimic this bee ‘scent’ to go undetected, but as different colonies have different group profiles and bees with different roles also have different profiles, it raises the question of how the mite would successfully do this.

The first published piece of work from the project investigated the role specific (also age specific as role is age dependent) chemical profiles of bees; click on the title to read Task Group Differences in Cuticular Lipids in the Honey Bee Apis mellifera.

Interestingly, given the choice between a forager bee and a nurse bee varroa mites will choose the nurse bee – which has access to brood chambers – 90% of the time, showing they can recognise the particular elements of that profile. Freshly hatched bees have no particular ‘scent’ or profile for a few hours, allowing them to be transferred between colonies with no problems. A united hive (2 colonies forced together) will show altered colony profiles within a day.

Future research will look further into analysing chemical profiles of varroa mites in different situations, also as to whether varroa alters the behaviour of the honey bee to promote mite survival. There are also differences between honeybee species to investigate, for example the african honey bee has one particular extra chemical in it’s profile. Also interestingly, asian honeybees are more resistant to varroa mites, partly because their drone brood capping is so thick the drone bees can’t move around the mites to break out and hatch.

I for one feel my £5 contribution has been well spent and I look forward to hearing more in the future.