Friends of the Earth’s new campaign is proving very popular with the public. In spite of the rain at Perivale Wood Open Day we were able to get quite a lot of signatures on postcards calling on the Government to support a Bee Action Plan. Ealing Farmers’ Market netted several more.
We took the Bee Cause to the Hanwell Carnival on Saturday 16 June, not only on a stall but also in the procession, with bee costumes from Friends of the Earth. Here are Jules, Nic and Virginia with our “Be Good to Bees” banner.
Alastair, Catharine and Penny helped out on the stall. As we had run out of wildflower seeds to give to supporters, we had some insect-friendly plants to offer, such as valerian and teasel, and we got many more signatures for the Bee Cause petition.
We were very interested to meet someone local who’s been researching the effects of pesticides on bees.
As part of the campaign, we are sponsoring a children’s photography competition. We’d like to see what bees they have found in their garden, local park or field, or other public space.
The competition is open to children aged 13 and younger. They don’t have to be Ealing residents. Closing date is 31 August. Entries to be emailed in jpeg form to email@example.com.
The top five photos will win a prize – a jar of Ealing honey! And we’ll post the photos on the Ealing Friends of the Earth website for all to admire. So if you know any budding photographers, please tell them about the competition.
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon
So the rhyme goes. But although most people appreciate all that bees do for us, not everyone is comfortable with bees’ nests in the garden. We have had a couple of enquiries about this, and because we weren’t sure of the answer we turned for advice to Andy Pedley from the Ealing Beekeepers’ Association.
In the case of a honeybee swarm – a dense cluster of bees, about the size of a football – you should contact the Ealing Beekeepers to see if someone will come to collect it: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, call the Bee swarm helpline for London: 07922 147379
Beekeepers will not remove other kinds of bees, such as bumblebees or solitary bees. These are best left alone. Bumblebees rarely sting and solitary bees are harmless.
Ealing Council doesn’t offer a control service for bees, which are not considered to be pests, but they do provide assistance with wasp nests. There is a charge for this. However, wasps kill many garden insect pests, so if the wasp nest is in an area away from human contact and not causing any problems it should be left untreated.
A wealth of information can be found on the British Beekeepers Association website, www.bbka.org.uk
Stag Beetles need your help!
Stag beetles are dependent on rotting wood in woodland habitats. The suburban sprawl of the post-war period saw extensive loss of this habitat, ancient woods were felled and grubbed out and the ensuing countryside tidy-up has been so damaging to our wildlife, particularly for bees and butterflies. But, funnily enough, London is a great place to find stag beetles.
How to spot a stag beetle
You are most likely to find a stag beetle near or on dead wood. It's between 5cm and 8cm long, with large antler shaped jaws. Adults emerge from the soil beneath logs or tree stumps from mid-May til late July’ Males can be seen flying on sultry summer evenings an hour or two before dusk.
What can you do to help stag beetles after you’ve let London Wildlife Trust know about your sighting? If you have a garden, allow a wild fringe to evolve and create deadwood piles near trees to mimic a woodland habitat. If you have a tree that’s dead or been felled, let part of the wood or at least the stump remain there. If you don’t own a garden why not join a local friends of group for a park or nature reserve and help to create stag beetle habitat, or set an area aside for them in your community garden.
Stag beetles need our help. By finding out where they are today we can help to protect and promote them for the foreseeable future.
Friends of the Earth Local Groups Conference
14-16 September at Imperial College, London
Yes, it’s in London this year, so no excuse for not attending! A ticket for the weekend costs £30 for local group members and gives you:
Saturday is open for all and a day ticket costs £10. To book, go to http://www.foe.co.uk/events/conference_7967.html
This question was raised at our May meeting. A recent newspaper article suggested that solar panels would generate less energy over their lifetime than was used in their manufacture. We found this unlikely, but wanted to know more.
The Centre for Alternative Technology says that this is an urban myth. A study by researchers from the Netherlands and the USA (Fthenakis, Kim and Alsema, 2008), which analyses PV module production processes based on data from 2004-2008, finds that it takes 250kw of electricity to produce 1m2 of crystalline silicon PV panel. Under typical UK conditions, such a panel will produce around 100kWh electricity per year, so it will take around 2 ½ years to pay back the energy cost of the panel.
PV panels have an expected life of at least 25-30 years, so will generate many times more electricity than was required for their production.
See http://info.cat.org.uk/questions/pv/what-energy-and-carbon-payback-time-pv-panels-uk and for more information have a look at