Archive for the ‘news’ Category

German Village Produces 321% More Energy Than It Needs!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013


It’s no surprise that the country that has kicked butt at the Solar Decathlon competition (to produce energy positive solar houses) year after year is the home to such a productive energy-efficient village.

The village’s green initiative first started in 1997 when the village council decided that it should build new industries, keep initiatives local, bring in new revenue, and create no debt. Over the past 14 years, the community has equipped nine new community buildings with solar panels, built four biogas digesters (with a fifth in construction now) and installed seven windmills with two more on the way. In the village itself, 190 private households have solar panels while the district also benefits from three small hydro power plants, ecological flood control, and a natural waste water system.

All of these green systems means that despite only having a population of 2,600, Wildpoldsried produces 321 percent more energy than it needs – and it’s generating 4.0 million Euro (US $5.7 million) in annual revenue by selling it back to the national grid. It is no surprise to learn that small businesses have developed in the village specifically to provide services to the renewable energy installations.

Over the years the village’s green goals have been so successful that they have even crafted a mission statement — WIR–2020, Wildpoldsried Innovativ Richtungsweisend (Wildpoldsried Innovative Leadership). The village council hopes that it will inspire citizens to do their part for the environment and create green jobs and businesses for the local area.

As a result of the village’s success, Wildpoldsried has received numerous national and international awards for its conservation and renewable energy initiatives known as Klimaschutz (climate protection). The council even hosts tours for other village councils on how to start their own Klimaschutz program. The Mayor has even been doing global tours ever since the Fukushima disaster.

Mayor Zengerle has gone to Romania, Berlin and the Black Sea Region to speak about how these places can transform their communities and make money in the process. Speaking to Biocycle, Mayor Zengerle said, “The mitigation of climate change in practice can only be implemented with the citizens and with the Village Council behind them 100 percent of the way. This model cannot be forced from only one side. We often spend a lot of time talking to our visitors about how to motivate the village council (and Mayor) to start thinking differently. We show them a best practices model in motion and many see the benefits immediately. From the tour we give, our guests understand how well things can operate when you have the enthusiasm and conviction of the people.”

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TheDailyGreen: Russians Saving U.S. from Colony Collapse Disorder

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Russian bees are stationed at the White House. (That’s a good thing.)


Here’s a thought on the current status of Colony Collapse Disorder. Long ago…well, just over 50 years ago or so, but not too far away from where I am now, a group of University and USDA Honey Bee Scientists gathered to study a problem that had been plaguing beekeepers in all parts of the country for a couple of years. Beekeepers were complaining that they were finding colonies devoid of bees, gone, empty and barren, and nothing was left behind to give a clue as to what had happened. Quick research showed that this wasn’t a new problem, and indeed had occurred quite a few times over the years…well, over the years that people had been keeping records about such things.

By the time the scientists had been rallied to do something by concerned beekeepers the situation had already gone on for a couple of seasons and was heading into the third. They wanted to meet it head on for the third year to see what could be done. Of course by the time they got together it was plain that the problem was abating…and in fact it was difficult to find samples to study.

One of the scientists was heard to say that it was a real task to study what they were calling disappearing disease, because every time they got together to study it…”the damn thing disappeared.”

This spring, the damn thing seems to have disappeared again. We’ve looked at why we think this is the case, and, indeed, beekeepers have gone a long way in improving how they keep bees healthy. Better nutrition management, cleaner homes for the bees to live in, safer mite controls being used by beekeepers and of course many of the bees and beekeepers that were susceptible to whatever it was are gone.

Late last week a press release was issued by the White House and the USDA about one more thing that seems to have shown CCD to the door this year: honey bees that have some resistance to one of the suspected precursors of CCD – the varroa mite.

The White House and CCD? Yes, the White House, the USDA and CCD.

Down in Baton Rouge, La., there’s a USDA Honey Bee Research Lab. There, they’ve imported and refined several strains of pretty much mongrel bees from eastern Russia that have been living with varroa for over a hundred years. In that time those varroa mites have taken a terrible toll on those bees. But not all of them died. In fact, some have thrived, and it was offspring from these varroa- and tracheal mite-tolerant bees that came to America. After vigorous inspections and extended isolation time to make certain they were disease and pest free, plus a few years of controlled breeding to increase even more this tolerance to mites, they have been released to the beekeepers here that need them. The result is that beekeepers using Russian bees use far fewer (and often no) mite control chemicals to keep their bees healthy. Because of this they spend less money and less time with this aspect of their business, and they have happier bees to boot. Plus, they lose fewer colonies so that cost, too, is reduced. All in all, keeping these bees saves time, money, environmental contamination and reduces or eliminates any threat of hive product problems. And now, there’s even a Russian Bee Breeders Association in place to insure quality control. For beekeepers everywhere, the Russians are coming.

And now, apparently, Russians are coming to the White House. This July the White House hive is to get one of these USDA developed Russian Queens so that varroa tolerance will reside in DC, too. The White House and the Secretary of the Department Of Agriculture engineered this late last week, and come July, a Russian will be living at the White House. How sweet is that?

Two Years After Legalized Beekeeping, City May be Running Short on Forage

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Andrew-holding-a-honey-comb-at-York-Prep New York has been a hive of activity since a certain rural hobby was legalized in 2010. Urban beekeeping has exploded with nearly 200 registered hives in the city, and experts say there may be another 200 off the books. It’s leading some to question whether the city can sustain the increasing number of hives.

On the roof of York Prep School on the Upper West Side beekeeper Andrew Cote, 40, peels off the tin top of a hive and pops out one of nine wooden frames. It’s covered by agitated honey bees.

“They’re working, they’re attending to their babies,” he said.

He turns over the honey comb-filled frame wearing elbow length leather gloves. A cloud of bees hovers around his veiled face.

Satisfied, he gingerly slides the tray back into the hive like a folder in a file cabinet.

Cote works with the school’s beekeeper club and assists with a curriculum on bees. He also harvests the honey to sell.

With hot summer temperatures, Cote is concerned about his bees getting enough water and not overheating.

It’s just not the heat that’s the problem. Like everywhere else in New York, there seems to be a shortage of available real estate. Cote worries there are not enough flowers to support the growing bee populations — especially in certain neighborhoods where beekeeping has blossomed..


Middle class fad for bee keeping sees doubling in number of hives

Thursday, May 30th, 2013


The British British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) said there are now more than 80,000 hives registered in Britain, compared to 40,000 in 2007. The organisation said there has been an increase in the number of honey bees in Britain over the last two years from 23 billion to 48 billion. They said the increase had partly been driven by concern for the environment and the recent fashion for grow-your-own food. Martin Smith, President of the BBKA, said people with large gardens or farms still make up the majority of bee keepers. But the recent “middle class fad” for allotments or inner city gardens on balconies and roofs mean there is also a growing number of people keeping bees in towns and cities

In central London the number of bee keepers registered with the BBKA has risen from 41 to more than 100 over the last couple of years. More than 400 hives have been set up by the Co-op in Manchester, London, Sheffield and Inverness. ”You cannot keep pigs in the middle of the city but you can keep bees,” said Mr Smith. “Also there is an element of people wanting to grow their own honey.”

Bee numbers across the world have been falling in recent years because of intensive farming, habitat loss and disease. Climate change, pesticides and a mysterious condition called “Colony Collapse Disorder” are also blamed.

In England it is estimated bee numbers have halved over the last 20 years and it is only recently, with the trend for bee keeping, that the numbers of honey bees has started to creep back up.

However there are downsides to the popularity of bee keeping.

Because so many people want to take up the hobby the price of a five-frame nucleus of bees, which is needed to set up a new hive, has gone up from £40 in 2008 to more than £150.

Mr Smith said experienced bee keepers can start their own hives and the price rise is driven by new comers.

He advised people to get advice and help from experienced bee keepers before starting a hive.

“The worst thing you can do is acquire a colony of bees when you don’t know what to do, then they will die,” he said. “The days of let-alone bee keeping are gone, you have to learn to manage them in a healthy and sustainable way.”

(by Louise Gray/Telegraph)

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Astronomers Get First Peek at Atmosphere of a “Super-Earth” Exoplanet

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

New constraints on a relatively small extrasolar world are beginning to reveal what the planet is made of–and whether it looks anything like our own

Someday in the coming years, if astronomers finally succeed in locating a virtual Earth twin outside the solar system—a tiny dot of a world at a temperate, life-enabling distance from a sunlike star—the achievement will hardly be cause for resting on observational laurels. Instead another race will begin: to characterize the planet and its atmosphere and to determine if the world is truly habitable or, tantalizingly, if it is already inhabited by some extraterrestrial life-form.

In the meantime, astronomers are honing their techniques on the closest thing available—so-called super-Earths, just a few times the mass of our own planet, which are too hot to be habitable but are interesting in their own right. To that end, a team of researchers has managed to capture the light spectrum of a super-Earth backlit by its host star. The measurements provide an unprecedented glimpse of the atmosphere of a relatively small planet; most worlds that have been located in other planetary systems are behemoths more massive than Jupiter.

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