Driving through the countryside the Dandelion, an iconic wild Spring flower, decorates every hedgerow and road verge. This bright little flower has its own beauty, it’s not dainty or exquisite, but it possesses a cherry vigour.
Many people go to great lengths to rid their lawn of this plant, please learn to tolerate them, and resist mowing or killing them. They are a vital source of Spring nectar for our bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects and their seeds attract many of our wild birds.
So, sit back, and allow your lawn to take on its own wild beauty by encouraging a variety of wildlife. Once this cheery little plant has set her seeds to the wind, you can get the mower out.
PLEASE be a Dandelion lover and share this post far and wide!
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan encourages sanctuaries for threatened species, says Mary O’Riordan.
Pollinating bees help to keep home food prices relatively low and could be worth more than €7 m a year to the apple crop in the North
Allowing weeds to grow and flower in our lawns is one of the recommended ways to save bees from extinction and to help prevent starvation.
With one third of our 98 species of native bees facing wipe-out, an All-Ireland Pollinator Plan has been devised to encourage gardeners, farmers, schools and councils to create havens and resources for the island’s threatened species.
Evidence from the United States has shown that dandelions and white clover on lawns can support 37 different species of bees.
In the study, white clover was important for honeybees and bumblebees whereas solitary bees, honeybees and hoverflies predominated on dandelion.
However, if you cannot stomach having your whole lawn covered in dandelion, (which is an excellent accompaniment in salads), the Pollinator Plan encourages us to leave small areas of the lawn uncut to allow flowering weeds to blossom and provide food for bees.
We can also grow more flowers, shrubs and trees that provide nectar and pollen for pollinators.
The advice is to make sure that your garden has at least one flowering food source from spring right through to winter like willow (early spring and currently blossoming), dandelion shortly after, clovers (early summer), lavender (late summer), ivy (autumn) and mahonia (winter).
Dr Una FitzPatrick, from the National Biodiversity Data Centre in Waterford IT, said the problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production and to protect the health of our environment.
The rescue plan, which has over 25 recommendations, will be a success if bee populations enjoy a revival within the next five years.
“We spent 40 years creating the problem so we are not going to solve it overnight,” she said.
Pollination itself is the transfer of pollen grains, the male sex cells of a flower, from the anther where they are produced to the receptive surface of the female organ of a flower. either on the same flower or another one. Bees are good pollinators for many reasons.
Their hairy bodies trap pollen and they spit on their front legs and then brush the pollen into a sticky ball that they store on their back legs in pollen baskets which they carry between flowers and eventually back to the hive to help feed the young.
The bees require large quantities of nectar and pollen to rear their young, and they visit flowers regularly in large numbers to obtain these foods.
In doing so, they concentrate on one species of plant at a time and serve as good pollinators for this reason.
Their body size enables them to pollinate flowers of many different shapes and sizes.
Honey bees are most active at temperatures between 14 degrees C and 35 degrees C.
Winds reduce their activity and stop it completely at about 25 miles per hour.
When conditions for flight are not ideal, honey bees work close to their colonies or don’t work at all.
Although they may fly as far as 7km in search of food, they usually go no farther than 1.5 to 2km in good weather.
In unfavourable weather, bees may visit only those plants nearest the hive. They also tend to work closer to the hive in areas where there are large numbers of attractive plants in bloom. A honeybee will make about 12 pollen collecting flights a day in peak season.
One third of our bee species, including the honeybee, 20 bumblebees and 77 solitary bees are threatened with extinction and the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is trying to reverse this trend.
Besides preserving threatened species, the economic value of bee pollination is also a huge incentive.
Pollinating bees help to keep homegrown food prices relatively low and could be worth more than €7 million a year to the apple crop in Northern Ireland, and €3.9m for oilseed rape in the Republic.
Méabh Boylan, An Taisce’s green-schools biodiversity officer, said: “The importance of pollinators to humans cannot be overstated as pollinators are responsible for making approximately one in every three spoonfuls of food that we eat.”
In the pollinator plan, national transport chiefs have also agreed to reduce roadside mowing on main roads and to open south-facing railway embankments for bee nests in further attempts to create bee highways along road networks and railway lines.
This bee highway scheme makes the Republic and Northern Ireland one of the first regions in Europe to adopt such a wide-ranging plan and it mimics similar ideas being tested in Norway and in parts of Britain.
Farmers are also encouraged to maintain flowering hedgerows that contain hazel, willow, blackthorn and hawthorn. Bramble is an excellent source of food in the summer so cutting of hedgerows should be every three years or cut only a third every year.
The base of hedgerows shouldn’t be sprayed. By cutting field margins and buffer strips only once or twice in a season and preferably before April and then in early September gives wildflowers a chance to set seed and retains late forage sources for the pollinators.
Dr Jane Stout, associate professor in botany at Trinity College Dublin, has said: “If we want pollinators to be available to pollinate our crops and wild plants for future generations, we need to manage the landscape in a more sustainable way and create a joined-up network of diverse and flower-rich habitats as well as reduce our use of chemical insecticides.
“And this doesn’t just mean in the countryside, but in our towns and villages as well.”
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan can be downloaded from the Biodiversity Ireland website and a very interesting children’s version is also downloadable.
For those interested in beekeeping or the plight of Irish bees, log onto the website of the Irish Honey Bee Society to find out about meetings and membership.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW DO BEES PRODUCE HONEY UNTIL NOW AFTER READING OF THIS TEXT YOU WILL KNOW VERY WELL THE WHOLE PROCESS…
The western, or European honeybee, pollinates three fourths of the fruits, veggies and nuts that we eat. We’d be in trouble without them. Of course, there’s a reason we don’t call them zucchini bees, almond bees, or apple bees. They also give us honey. One healthy hive will make and consume more than 50 kg of honey in a single year, and that takes a lot of work.
Honey is made from nectar, but it doesn’t come out of flowers as that golden, sticky stuff. After finding a suitable food source, bees dive in head first, using their long, specially adapted tongues to slurp tiny sips of nectar into one of two stomachs. A single bee might have to drink from more than a thousand flowers to fill its honey stomach, which can weigh as much as the bee itself when full of nectar. On the way back to the hive, digestive enzymes are already working to turn that nectar into sweet gold. When she returns to the hive, the forager bee will vomit the nectar into the mouth of another worker. That bee will pass it into another bee’s mouth, and so on.
This game of regurgitation telephone is an important part of the honey making process, since each bee adds more digestive enzymes to turn long chains of complex sugars in the raw nectar into simple monosaccharides like fructose and glucose. At this point, the nectar is still pretty watery, so the bees beat their wings and create an air current inside the hive to evaporate and thicken the nectar, finally capping the cell with beeswax so the enzyme rich bee barf can complete its transformation into honey. Because of its low water content and acidic pH, honey isn’t a very inciting place for bacteria or yeast spoilage, and it has an incredibly long shelf life in the hive or in your pantry. Honey has been found in Egyptian tombs dating back thousands of years, pretty much unspoiled.
For one pound of honey, tens of thousands of foraging bees will together fly more than three times around the world and visit up to 8 million flowers. That takes teamwork and organization, and although they can’t talk they do communicate… with body language. Foragers dance to tell other bees where to find food. A circle dance means flowers are pretty close to the hive, but for food that’s farther away, they get their waggle on. The waggle dance of the honey bee was first decoded by Karl Von Frisch, and it’s definitely one of the coolest examples of animal communication in nature. First the bee walks in a straight line, wagging its body back and forth and vibrating its wings, before repeating in a figure eight. Whatever angle the bee walks while waggling tells the other bees what direction to go. Straight up the line of honeycombs, then the food is in the direction of the sun. If the dance is pointed to the left or right, the other bees know to fly in that angle relative to the sun. The longer the waggle, the farther away the food is, and the food is better, the more excited the bee shakes its body.
If that’s not amazing enough, even if they can’t see the sun itself, they can infer where it is and the time of day by reading the polarization of light in the blue sky. A single bee is a pretty simple creature, but together they create highly complex and social societies. There’s three main classes in a beehive: drones, workers and queens. When a new queen is born, she immediately runs around and kills her sisters, because there can be only one. During mating season, she’ll fly to a distant hive to mate with several males and store away the sperm, which she’ll use back at her home hive to lay more than a thousand eggs a day throughout the rest of her life. Any unfertilized eggs, those that don’t join up with sperm, will mature into male drones, which means they only have one set of chromosomes. But fertilized eggs are all genetically female, destined t become either queens or workers. Queens do the egglaying of course, but worker bees are the backbone of the beehive.
So what makes most females become workers, while just one wears the hive crown? A baby bee’s diet activate genetic programming that shifts its entire destiny. Every bee larva is initially fed a nutrient rich food called royal jelly, but after a few days, worker bee babies are switched to a mixture of pollen and honey called “bee bread”. But queens eat royal jelly their whole life, even as adults. Scientists used to think it was just royal jelly that put queens on the throne, but just last year they discovered one chemical in bee bread, the food that queens don’t get, that keeps worker bees sterile. Being a queen seems to be as much about what bees don’t eat as what they do. Making honey is insect farming on its grandest scale, with intricate societies cooperating to make a food fit for bear tummies bid and small… with the pleasant side effect of pollinating most of the world’s flowering plants.
Valentine’s Day is approaching. The Irish are well known for their ability to do the hearts and flowers thing. This nation is just a bunch of old romantics at heart. Anyone who’s ever shed a tear at the haunting tones of Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares to You, or swallowed the lump in the throat while nursing a broken heart listening to Shane McGowan singing Rainy Night in Soho will tell you that. I mean how can any country produce song lyrics like these and not be prone to the love-struck disease?
So it will come as no surprise that there are a few Irish foods said to be aphrodisiacs. You know those things? They’re meant to get the pulse racing and the sap rising and what not. Put you in the mood for love. Go on you old softies, you know you’re dying to know what they are!
1. Oysters. No surprises here – oysters are known the world over for their aphrodisiac qualities. Casanova is said to have eaten fifty oysters every day and we all know where that got him. Ireland produces some of the best oysters in the world. Carlingford Lough oysters are famous. Clarinbridge in Co.Galway, is referred to as the home of the Irish native oyster. There are oysters farmed in quiet Atlantic waters off Sherkin Island in West Cork, and in the little coves on the Wild Atlantic Way in Kerry. Eat them raw as they come, straight from the half shell, and feel the mood of lurve happening as you eat! Why is this? Because firstly they contain zinc, an important mineral for men as it’s needed in sperm production. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but if you’re a fella it’s necessary to have zinc for obvious reasons, and oysters have had the reputation of being a food that provides it. So no wonder Casanova ate so many. However, more modern research also links oysters to unique amino acids which are not available in supplement form. These aid production of testosterone in men, and progesterone in women. Both are sex hormones, and again their connection to oysters contributes to the reputation of the shellfish as an aphrodisiac.
2. Celery, Who’d have thought it? The crunchy sticks we use as the basis for stews and casseroles, make soup from, and chomp our way through stick by stick in a crudite mix, is a sexy gourmet ingredient! What? You won’t look at bunch of celery in the same light again now you’ve read that. Celery has phytoandrogens, the plant equivalent of testosterone, which is important for the male sex drive. Now you know. It’s said celery is at its best after a winter frost, when it gets its crunch and all the minerals and nutrients are at their most potent. Now is a good time to eat it. Bring on the raw celery and dips on February 14th.
3. Salmon. Fresh salmon contains lots of Omega 3 fatty acids which have huge health properties. These fatty acids are linked to good heart health, but also to production of sex hormones.
4. Kale. Seriously, it might look boring and green and not particularly inspiring to you. But its powerful antioxidants help keep blood vessels healthy and protect their linings, increasing blood flow and boosting good circulation. Which is very important if you want to be a red hot lover! Seasonal kale soup it is then, on Valentine’s night.
5. Chocolate. Now we’re talking. What girl can resist a bit of chocolate? It brings on the feel good factor for very good reason. It has natural stimulants for well-being and enhances mood. So fellas, if you want to put some passion into Valentine’s night, bring her a box of the finest chocolate you can find. You might want to check out our chocolate makers for that.
6. Honey for your honey. Natural and preferably organic Irish honey contains special phytochemicals which occur naturally in plants, and aid production of testosterone in men. Honey also contains boron which helps utilise Estrogen in women. Quite simply, honey is said to boost libido for men and women. It’s fairly appropriate. Who hasn’t been introduced to the facts of life by their parents telling them an awkward story about the birds and bees?
So there we have it. A fine seasonal Valentine’s Feast of oysters, salmon, kale and celery awaits, finished with chocolate and an Irish honey eaten out of the jar with a spoon! Love is definitely in the air, if you’re in need of any more inspiration check out our Valetines for food lovers ideas here.
Pollinators in Ireland Bees are the most important pollinating insect because they visit flowers to collect food for their larvae, as well as feeding on floral resources as adults. In Ireland crops such as apples, clover, strawberries and oilseed rape all benefit from pollination and a recent study from the Department of the Environment valued this ‘ecosystem service’ that bees provide at €85m a year to the economy.
2013: Worldwide study shows the decline of wild bees and other pollinators may be an even more alarming threat to crop yields than the loss of honeybees, revealing the irreplaceable contribution of wild insects to global food production.
In Ireland there are 101 species of bee, including the familiar honeybee (One species) and 20 bumblebee species. The remaining species are solitary, meaning they do not form colonies.
Amongst the most well-known services performed by a healthy biodiversity is pollination. Bees are the keystone pollinator species making more flower visits than any other insect. There is a need however for urgent action as our wild bees are facing an unprecedented crisis in declining populations due to agricultural intensification, habitat degradation, disease and parasite spread, and climate change. Pollinators play a crucial role in our farms, gardens and countryside – we cannot afford to take them for granted.
Gardening for Bees
Gardens are extremely important for bees, and vice versa. Bees need flowers for sustenance, and flowers need bees for pollination. But it’s important the flowers you grow provide the food bees need. So Let’s Bee Friendly by turning part of your garden into a bumblebee haven!
As a rule of thumb your garden should provide bee-friendly flowers, open cup shaped flowers are the bees’ favorites such as foxgloves, that are rich in pollen and nectar which bees can easily access from spring until late summer. This will ensure that there is a good supply of pollen at all of the crucial times.
Flowers clustered into clumps of one species will attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered through the habitat patch.
Plants like Pussy Willow and Bluebell are excellent early-year food sources. Mahonia and Hebe are good non-native options
In early summer Honeysuckle and Thyme are ideal, and in late summer Heathers, Knapweed, Scabious, and non-native species like Sunflowers, Sweet pea and Lavender will provide plenty for bees to forage on.
If you can, leave an area of your lawn uncut during summer to allow Clovers and Bird’s-foot Trefoil to flower. Leaving uncut verges or planting wildflower meadows will greatly benefit bees.
Many solitary species nest in south facing banks, so leaving exposed areas of soil at the edges of lawns or creating south facing banks of sandy or clay soil will attract ground nesting species. Other species will nest in dead wood or in south facing stonewalls
For years, I’ve been adding turmeric to my homemade cold remedy, a fragrant mixture of hot water, lemon, ginger, honey, and cayenne. Here in Los Angeles, you can see it everywhere as a superspice ingredient in juices and smoothies. But it wasn’t recently that I realized that most of us are doing it all wrong, and that we need to be stirring turmeric into some warm milk instead.
Meet the Superspice Turmeric
A bright yellow spice that colors mustard and curries, turmeric is a part of Ayurvedic medicine and has now been studied extensively in the West for its anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antibacterial properties. Prevention magazine reports that it might be a preventative against Alzheimer’s and other studies suggest that it can reduce cholesterol, improve digestion, and stimulate the immune system. In short, it’s an amazing spice.
I’m a health and food editor, so I have skimmed and read every fact sheet and press release about the amazing health benefits of turmeric. But despite hundreds of headlines and articles about turmeric and its active agent curcumin, I hadn’t been reading the fine print. I hadn’t seen enough real-world ways to add turmeric to my diet besides the admittedly tasty route of curries, dal, and mustard.
Hows and Whys: Turmeric Milk, Not Turmeric Tea
It was a Tibetan friend who actually brought turmeric milk, or ‘golden milk’, to my attention. As a Tibetan-in-exile, she was raised in India, and she shook her head when she saw me drinking my cold-fighting concoction one day. She commented that I should be putting turmeric in my milk, not my tea. When I asked why, she didn’t elaborate beyond saying that they had been doing it that way in South Asia for centuries.
Just a little research into the issue yielded big results. Just like with many other supplements, popping a curcumin pill or stirring some turmeric into your tea is not enough. The problem with turmeric, it turns out, is that it has very low bio-availability when its eaten by itself. In normalspeak, that means your body has a hard time absorbing it and all its wonderful health benefits.
But there are two things in your kitchen that will help your body to absorb turmeric. One is fat and the other is black pepper. That is the reason that turmeric is best stirred into warm milk and not dissolved into watery tea. It’s also the reason that experts think people in India have the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world – curries are made with both fat (cooking oil) and black pepper.
How to Make Turmeric Milk, or Golden Milk, a Delicious Cold Remedy
1 cup milk (cow, almond, coconut, rice, hemp, soy are all fine as long as they have some fat)
1 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp raw wild honey
½ tsp Cinnamon
black pepper, a pinch
1. Heat up your milk in the microwave or on the stove.
2. Add turmeric and whisk to combine.
3. Stir in honey and cinnamon and mix well.
4. Add a pinch of black pepper and stir.
Sit back and enjoy your virus-fighting, anti-inflammatory, relaxing, and fragrant beverage.
by Nick Meyer | September 11, 2014
When we think of the best foods to eat at night, raw honey might not pop into our heads because of how sweet it is, and eating anything sweet before bed typically doesn’t end well.
But raw honey is different because of its natural composition, to the point where some doctors are even recommending it be taken before bedtime.
Among them is Dr. Ron Fessenden, MD, who authored the book ‘The Honey Revolution: Restoring the Health of Future Generations.’
Fessenen is among those recommending honey as an ideal food for many reasons and to be taken at many different times of day, but perhaps most interestingly before bed in order to support a healthy night’s sleep.
Honey may be one of the sweetest foods out there, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful for your body as it undergoes the repairing process overnight.
As always make sure your honey is raw and organic, since most grocery store brands are imported, contain GMOs, and are oftentimes heated so that many of the beneficial compounds are destroyed in the name of “safety.” In this case it’s best to buy it directly from the farmer.
How raw honey aids in sleep quality (and quantity)
As noted by Fessenden, raw honey contains “an ideal ratio of fructose to glucose,’ to support the liver, an organ that works overtime literally and figuratively, during the sleeping process.
Eating honey ensures that the liver will have an adequate supply of liver glycogen throughout the day, and taking it before bedtime can serve as the perfect liver fuel at night. Combined with adequate, pure water, your body should have most of what it needs to perform its restorative and detoxing functions.
According to this blog post from Fessenden, honey promotes a truly deep and restorative sleep in two main ways.
First, it allows for an adequate supply of liver glycogen overnight while your body is fasting and stores are low. He notes that the average adult liver only has about 75 to 100 grams worth of storage space for glycogen, which varies between men and women of different body sizes.
Per hour the body consumes about 10 grams of glycogen during the day, leaving our stores quite low by the time our heads hit the pillow at 11 p.m.
That leaves less liver glycogen than is needed for eight hours of sleep if you ate dinner at 6 p.m., Fessenden says.
However, if you take a teaspoon or two of honey before bed, you’ll be re-stocking your liver with glycogen so that your brain doesn’t activate a stress response, which often occurs when glycogen is low. Honey also contributes to the release of melatonin in the brain, as it leads to a slight spike in insulin levels and the release of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan leads to serontonin which is made into melatonin in the dark.
Finally, when adding honey to your diet at night, you’ll be supporting a healthy metabolism as your liver goes to work breaking down the toxins that are ultimately stored in fat cells.
Other health benefits of honey
In addition to the ability to help us have a restful night’s sleep, honey has a wide range of benefits that have been tested throughout time.
Honey virtually never spoils, as it has been found in Egyptian tombs still intact after many hundreds of years.
The popular sweetener is also anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, excellent for reducing throat irritation, great for athletes, and much more, as this article notes.
Regardless of how you use your honey, don’t forget to buy organic and raw from a local farmer: the benefits of honey have been enjoyed for thousands of years, but they just don’t make it the way they used to anymore (unless you buy from a trustworthy organic farmer or beekeeper, that is).
– See more at: http://althealthworks.com/3807/cant-sleep-all-the-way-through-night-a-little-bit-of-raw-honey-might-do-the-trick/#sthash.5RzPcbS4.dpuf
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