Future

The Island Of Happy Bees

On the Canadian island of Newfoundland, bees don't get sick or sting. Researchers want to spread this buzzing paradise, and get some organic honey in the process.

(blondyimp)
(blondyimp)
Bernadette Calonego

Canadian bee expert Geoffrey Williams knows what a bee wonderland looks like. It is a place where swarms of honey bees live peacefully, are stress-free and healthy -- and almost never sting. It is a virtual bee paradise.

These perfect conditions exist on the island of Newfoundland, in eastern Canada. Williams wants it to stay that way, and that is the reason why he has travelled to Switzerland, where he is currently based in Liebefeld near Bern at the Swiss Bee Research Center. Thanks to the state-run agricultural research organisation Agroscope, he is studying the threats and diseases bees are often exposed to -- and figuring out how to prevent them from ever reaching Newfoundland.

Both Swiss and Newfoundland bees belong to the same genus of European honey bee (Apis mellifera), which are remarkably friendly. "I've been here three months now and I've never been stung," says 28-year-old Williams, who spent four years researching at Dalhousie University in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. He had quite a different experience while in Arizona, where he was once stung by some 50 killer bees in just 20 minutes.

In the United States, the bee population is in turmoil. Last winter about a third of all US bees were wiped out by parasites, viruses and other diseases. One such parasite is the small hive beetle, whose larvae damage the honeycomb when they eat their way through it. The adult insect then mimics a bee and teaches other bees to feed it with honey. In Canada, the beetle has only been detected in one small area. The island of Newfoundland has, like Switzerland, so far been spared a small hive beetle infestation.

The Deadly Varroa Mite

But unlike Newfoundland, Switzerland is home to bees' most infamous nemesis, the varroa mite, Latin for "destructor mite."

"It's a completely one-off case that this mite hasn't been found in Newfoundland," says Geoffrey Williams. "There are two reasons for this. Newfoundland is geographically isolated, and there are also very strict rules regulating bee imports and quarantine procedures."

In Switzerland, the Nosema ceranae parasite has also caused much damage, by attacking the bees' stomach, causing diarrhea and death. In Spain these parasites have been responsible for the destruction of countless bee colonies. In the US, experts have recently traced the so-called "colony collapse disorder" back to the parasite.

Beekeepers in Newfoundland must remain vigilant, even if the island is free of the most dangerous threats to bee populations. And Canadian bee researchers have to know their enemy before they can fight against it. In Liebefeld Geoffrey Williams has been identifying the parasites that pose the greatest threat, and which Newfoundland must develop defenses against. He has been sharing his insights with other Canadian beekeepers.

His findings could also prove useful for Swiss beekeepers. Williams is examining bees for parasites and exploring the interaction between these parasites and pesticides and their potential effects on Swiss bees. Working on a research project sponsored by the Swiss Ricola Foundation, Williams would like to determine the exact amount of chemicals that bees can tolerate, and their best combinations.

Since there are no bee diseases in Newfoundland, there is no need for beekeepers there to use chemicals and the bee population thus remains free of pesticides. But Williams does not believe that importing bees from abroad should be regarded as the primary solution to local problems. "Switzerland shouldn't have to resort to importing bees to maintain the local population," he says. When animals are moved from one country to another, there is always an element of risk involved – diseases can easily be spread in this way.

Stress-Free Honey

There is one other resemblance between Swiss and Newfoundland bees. Compared to other bee populations, they are subject to less stress because they are primarily used to produce honey and are less frequently used to fertilize fields - a process that involves transporting them from one place to another.

In Newfoundland as in Switzerland, the average beekeeper only keeps a few colonies – far fewer than beekeepers in the United States. In Newfoundland, which counts only five breeders and about 150 colonies, only a negligible amount of honey is produced. But that could all change if the Newfoundland became one of the few places in the world able to offer chemical-free, organic honey.

Read the original article in German.

Photo - blondyimp

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Running of the Bulls in Tafalla, northern Spain

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здравейте!*

Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.

• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.

• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.

• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.

• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.

Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.

• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$57,789

A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


📣 VERBATIM

"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."


— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.

🕌 🔍 IN OTHER NEWS

Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Are you more Chicago Bulls or running of the bulls? Let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! info@worldcrunch.com info@worldcrunch.com!

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