Tag archives for biodiversity

I’ve got bees!

Johan and Franz checking if the bees have a queen. The rain and the bees flying around don’t really appear on this photo, but I can tell you they were everywhere… Photo: Sara Jeswani.

“Congratulations, you’ve got bees!”

It was the beginning of July and I was sitting on a boat, far away from Stockholm, when my mobile phone beeped. I stared at the text message for several minutes. Well, I did sign up for that lottery (handing out a few of the “new” bee societies that are created when you divide big ones during summer) at my local beekeeper association’s course earlier this year. But I never win lotteries, so I reckoned nothing would happen.

I was wrong.

Honey bees are extremely interesting animals. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

Reading about the importance of bees and how they are now more and more threatened,I had decided to learn a bit more and joined a beekeeping course in the beginning of this year. I am far from the only one having got this interest lately, and the beekeeping veterans running the course were amazed to see 35 new members coming to the first meeting instead of the normal four to five.

Trying the get the loose honey bees out of the car before driving across the city. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

The thing about bees is that the more you learn about them the more intriguing they get. How on Earth does the bee queen know where to go when it’s time to mate? And how do the bees manage to tell each other where the best nectar is to be found? Why are so many of them dying all of a sudden, does it have to do with pesticides being sprayed on food crops?

I would really like to have a beehive, i thought – in a couple of years.

Who knows if it would ever have happened, if it wasn’t for this lottery. Only question: What do you do with thousands of bees when you live in a flat?

Finally the boxes are placed in the new hive, and after a few minutes the bees start flying in and out, getting to know their new neighbourhood. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

After sending e-mails to everyone I know in the area where I live, I ended up finding a nice new home for them, a local garden association where the members keep bees together. It’s reassuring to have others that will take care of the bees together with me, and last few weeks we started restoring an old hive to give them a new house.

Last week it was finally time to move the bees from their current home in a park north of Stockholm. The rain was pouring down and the bees (approximately 40.000–50.000!) weren’t exactly in their best mood when we put them in the car to cross Stockholm… But now they have a new home, which I hope they will like!

Protests in Sweden’s own summerhouse

Getting their message out in the Ojnare forest. Photo: Fältbiologerna.

“This country is like one big summerhouse”, said a Chinese man I know the other day. And it’s true, Sweden is a very calm country during summertime.

But there is one conflict which has managed to stay in the newspaper columns all through the lazy summer months, taking place in Sweden’s very summer paradise: The island of Gotland [map], where many Swedes spend their holidays among sandy beaches and picturesque houses.

Here, a limestone extraction company has been given the green light for starting a new quarry. Limestone has been extracted in Gotland for hundreds of years. This specific quarry, though, would be situated right between two Natura 2000 areas, Ojnareskogen, containing threatened species and protecting biodiversity on the island.

This made young people from the environment organisation Fältbiologerna skip their holiday plans and go to Gotland instead. Since early July they have been camping on the prospected land, where a forest management company has started clearing the forest for the future limestone quarry.

Read more » >>

Sweden has thousands of nameless insects!

The Malaise trap, which has given its name to the project. Once invented by the Swedish entomologist René Malaise, they are a very efficient way of collecting insects. Photo: Kajsa Glemhorn.

I know that  nature can never be entirely mapped. And I knew that there are plants and animals unknown to humanity in the vastness of the world’s jungles, but in Sweden..?

Yes, in Sweden. There are still insects that are new to Sweden, or even to the world. And loads of them.

Within the Swedish Malaise trap project, run by the Swedish Museum of Natural History, 2003 and 2006, insects were gathered with Malaise traps in 75 different locations around Sweden. About 40 million (!!) insects were collected, and now scientists all over the world are working hard to sort them and find out what species every single one of them belong to. This is a job that will take many years, but already two years ago 1000 species that weren’t before recorded in Sweden have been found. About half of these are also unknown by international science.

´Another insect species that hasn’t been found in Sweden before, the Piogaster albina. This is an insect with a creepy story: It attacks spiders and lays its eggs on them. When the larvae comes out of the egg, it sucks the “blood” of the spider, and when the insect finally is born, the spider dies... Photo: The Swedish Malaise trap project.

The aim of this project is to create an unique scientific resource for future research on entomology (insects). In a recent interview in Dagens Nyheter (article in Swedish), Kajsa Glemhorn who leads the project, says she hopes for 5.000 insect species new to Sweden to be “discovered”.

This must be a fantastic opportunity for entomologists to make their own mark in history. Kajsa Glemhorn has for example given the name to a species until now unknown to humanity – the Platygaster Glemhornae!

A film that makes you laugh – and think

Just another ordinary sushi... Photo from the film Blue Marble Café.

Crisis, crisis, crisis. Climate change, crashing economies, oceans depleted of fish and other natural resources fading away under human pressure.
We certainly live in times of great changes, some of which can be quite hard to grasp. And usually culture is a good companion, that can help us process and understand what is going on around us.

But when it comes to the environment, I’d say that culture hasn’t really kept pace with the course of events. At least in Sweden, rather few theatre plays, films and books take on the subjects of climate change and resource scarcity.

But there are a few. When I went to the festival Uncivilised earlier this summer, I happened to talk to the film maker and actor Håkan Julander. Together with Björn Engström he has taken on the difficult task of making films about our time’s big crisis – with a sense of humour.
– We certainly need heavy, expensive film projects like “Home” and “The Planet” , but it must also be possible to make entertainment about these issues.We can joke about everything else, so why not his? he tells me.

One beer coming up! Photo from the film Blue Marble Café.

Read more » >>

A scientist at war against our unnecessary plastics

Photo: Erik Bleckert

Daniel Hansson is an oceanographer at the The Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment. Knowing the wonders of the sea, he became worried about the threats against it, and started a project to make people avoid using unnecessary plastics in their everyday life. His work can be followed for example through the hash tag #plastriot at Twitter.

In an interview at the web site of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (article in Swedish, can be autotranslated here) he says plastic is a fantastic material – when it’s in the right place. It’s strong, thin, easy and solid.

But there are innumerable examples of the problems plastic causes when it ends up in nature.

Did you for example know that: Read more » >>