By on October 23rd, 2008

This article was originally published on

Editor”s Note: This article was reposted here in hopes that today”s CNN video (see bottom of article) will spark more interest in this issue. The video states that “sweet tooth Britain” will have no honey of its own to sell after Christmas. Can we change that this Halloween?

The honey bees are dying off around the world, and yet still many people have never heard of (CCD). [Last month] the Italian government banned several pesticides that are thought to be linked to the honey bee decline. More research (funding) is required to find out exactly what is causing the disappearance.

During Honey Week, Meridith Melnick wrote:

“One-third of the food we consume comes from pollinators. Bees are responsible for pollinating almonds, apples, soft fruit, and berries among other crops. Without them, we will

lose more than honey (a tragedy in its own right!), we will lose a large portion of the biodiversity we now enjoy on our plates.”

I shared my own honey bee concerns with my preschooler a few months back, and I was amazed how quickly and easily she accepted the need to protect this species. Sunflowers have taken off all over our yard, and while I’m no bee expert there are definitely some pollinators in our presence. My children do their own waggle dance whenever they see a flower visitor. (Planting bee friendly flowers is one of the easiest things you can do as a family to support honey bees.)

Since our governments aren’t acting fast enough, perhaps we need to send our children off buzzing with this CCD news. Have you thought of a Halloween costume idea for your youngest tot? If not consider turning your little honey into a bee. You know your friends and family are going to ask what your precious bundle is going to be on his first Halloween. With your baby on board, spreading the word about CCD will be easy. (And people will be less likely to judge you as a greenie in front of little buzz.)

You don’t need to run out and buy your baby a new costume. You don’t even need to be all that creative. Yellow pajamas (or snow suit) and some black tape may be all you need to get your neighbours going goo goo for your little stinger. Parents who like to join in on the dress up fun might consider pairing a yellow shirt with black pants to form a bee colony.

Here’s another idea for young families who rarely make it down a whole street on Halloween night before little ones tire and are ready to buzz home. Instead of accepting candy that your baby won’t eat, offer pouches of sunflower seeds to your neighbours, with a link to the Hagen Daaz website (www.helpthehoneybee.com).

Eco Challenge: Please use the comment section to send your ideas for crafting homemade (earth friendly) bee antennae that don’t fall off. (My own kids are old enough to decide what they want to bee for Halloween. The Hungry Caterpillar and Monarch Butterfly are going to need antennae too!)

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Image: flickr user Tommie and Georgie under a Creative Commons License

By on August 10th, 2008

Like you, I’ve come to hate my local gas station. Even though I drive a Prius, and patronize the cheapest gas station in my town (paying cash to get a discount), I still can’t help but adopt an attitude of disgust and disdain when I hand over my money. $20 doesn’t fill the tank anymore, and my car and my soul feel a little empty.

But there’s at least one person who hasn’t had to experience the humiliation of the fill-up more than once this summer. Meet Danni Brancaccio, a college student 20 years of age who has pledged to get through this summer using only one tank of gas.

Her shiny blue-green 1997 Honda Civic gas tank holds 11.9 gallons, and she is sipping that liquid as slowly as she can. The Vancouver, Washington native rides a bike 1.5 miles every morning to her nearby park-n-ride, then takes the bus to her law-clerk job 16 miles away in Portland, OR. Sometimes she catches a ride with her mom, but only if her Mom is going that way.

Her “one-tank-or-bust” idea is resonating with the media, and she’s been featured on ABC and CNN, where she represents herself with intelligence and humor. According to her CNN spot, the benefits of her experiment are not only publicity and money savings — she’s also lost five pounds.

And, it seems like she is walking and riding her way to success. With only a few weeks left in her summer, she’s still got a 1/4 tank left.

I find this kind of effort deeply inspirational, but I still don’t think it’s going to get me on an LA bus. Last time I took the bus, when I first got here 18 years ago, it stopped suddenly in the worst part of town, and the driver then demanded we all get off and wait for another bus, which took another 45 minutes to show. So I’m afraid I’m not the world’s best bus advocate. But hey — I’m only 30 miles from the beach — maybe I can ride my bike, or catch a ride from my mom.

Read Danni’s blog here.

By on July 3rd, 2008

Many Canadians likely caught the news story a few days ago about the truck that flipped over on a New Brunswick highway with 12 million honey bees on board. The concern for those who are allergic to bee stings got plenty of media attention, however, I was surprised how little was said about the poor endangered honey bees. After reading the recent CNN article about Colony Collapse Disorder, I was certain the truck accident would be a good excuse to educate the Canadian public about the plight of our precious pollinators. Visions of Bee Movie 2 filled my head after learning that the mysterious disappearance of honey bees has devastated North American beekeepers for the second year in a row. I was shocked to learn that 25% of the western honey bee population has disappeared due to CCD, a phenomenon that is blamed at least partially on various man made interferences such as pesticide use, loss of nutrition, global warming, and commercial migration (a.k.a transporting bees in trucks on highways).

Here are some other stinging statistics:

  • Approximately 1/3 of the food we eat relies on bees for pollination
  • Some researchers believe that without research and protection honey bees could go extinct within ten years
  • Many North American beekeepers are reporting a loss of up to 70% of their bee populations in the last two years
  • According to the World Bank, food prices have risen over 80% in the last three years. Some farmers say that if beekeepers go out of business the cost of nuts, fruit, and vegetables could increase tenfold.

Here are some things you can do with your kids to promote awareness about the honey bee crisis:

  • Rent Bee Movie and talk with your kids about the role the bees play as pollinators.
  • Buy Hagaan Dazs Ice cream –a portion of bee dependent flavours goes to honeybee research.
  • Buy honey products (to support local beekeepers)
  • Visit educational websites for free lessons on honey bees
  • Plant a bee friendly garden with flowers like sunflowers, lilacs, and cosmos
  • Donate money to honey bee research

Einstein has been falsely quoted as saying that humans would begin disappearing four years after the honey bee. Even if it wasn’t Einstein who made this prediction more than fifty years ago, it is obvious that a disappearance of these pollinators would have a major impact on the world’s food supply. How many years would you give us?

By on June 12th, 2008

As the environment continues to show its wear and tear, “eco-community” will likely become a household name. Yesterday CNN featured a sneak peak at some of the up and coming regions racing to become the world’s first zero emissions zone. At the front of the race is Dockside Green in Canada’s own Victoria, BC, which has already opened its first phase of residential suites. A quick look at the plans and one will see that the builders of Dockside Green are going much further than energy efficient light bulbs and energy saver washers. They also guarantee residents 100% fresh air inside the buildings and are committed to reusing at least 90% of their construction waste. Go Victoria!