Posts Tagged ‘pesticides’

We Need Bees

Monday, April 26th, 2021

Yesterday I walked down my garden and found our three apple trees in full blossom, a fine sight, though one I didn’t feel a need to photograph. I rather like the way it appears just for a few days each year then disappears. I stood there for a minute or so, breathing in the scene, then realised there was something wrong.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed with our various lockdowns has been the silence with fewer flights from Heathrow. We’re off the flightpaths but only a couple of miles distant, and in usual times there is a virtually constant drone – along with the noise of the various motorways a mile or two distant. Road traffic is more or less back to normal but we still here the birds singing and other natural noises more clearly.

Standing by the trees I realised what was missing – there were no bees. For a couple of minutes, no bees. Then along came a solitary bumble-bee. Quite a large one, but that bee is going to have a problem pollinating all that blossom.

Most crops rely on insects to pollinate the flowers and without them there are no crops. Bees are not the only pollinating insects but I think they are the main ones, and the decline in bee colonies has a drastic effect on food production – including my own apple trees.

The beekeepers and environmentalists came to protest outside parliament to urge the UK to vote for a EU ban on bee-killing neo-nicotinoid pesticides which both kill bees directly and reduce their resistance to other factors. The EU later backed a ban on these pesticides with Michael Gove, then environment secretary stating that the risks of using them “to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood.”

Katherine Hamnett and and Dame Vivienne Westwood with the ‘Save the Bees’ petition

However although the are generally now banned for outdoor use, the government early in 2021 authorised the use of one of these pesticides on the sugar beet crop to combat the threat of the virus yellows disease, though in the event the threat was found to be less than anticipated and the pesticide was not used.

Bee population in the UK seems to be continuing to decrease, though this year’s dearth in my back garden may be more a matter of the particular weather conditions and local habitat loss. Surveys of pollinating insects have shown a fairly consistent decline since the 1980s, with around a third having been lost since then, though the recent decrease in pesticide use may have reduced the rate of decline.

March of the Beekeepers

Two Years Ago – 22 Sept 2018

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Two years ago I’d spent a quiet week after having been away the previous weekend for a 40th birthday celebration in Belper. For once there didn’t seem to be many events in London to photograph, or at least not that I could easily get too. Living just outside London covering anything starting early in the morning or finishing late at night makes travel difficult and/or expensive, and unless I’m actually commissioned certainly loss-making. And over the past few years I’ve turned down almost all the few commissions that have been offered, suggesting other photographers who I know need the jobs much more than I do.

But on Saturday 22nd September 2018 there were a few things happening in London, though to be honest if I’d had a busy week I might have left them to others to cover. I had five different events in my diary and also there was an art installation in Trafalgar Square that sounded mildly interesting and despite a poor weather forecast I decide to go up to London.

Nelson was getting an extra lion, and in fluorescent orange for the London Design Festival. It was supposed to create and spout poetry as well as roar in response to visitors, but well I was there it had entirely lost the muse. Perhaps it was the rain which dampened its spirits. It’s pretty difficult to get proper detail in anything that is fluorescent orange without making the surroundings far too dark, and most of the pictures I saw published in the papers failed. But I’d had a lot of practice photographing protests against Guantanamo with campaigners dressed in orange jump suits.

People taking part in The Peoples Walk for Wildlife set up by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham showed some remarkable ingenuity in the costumes and despite the rain were in good spirits, though I was getting pretty fed up and my cameras were beginning to suffer. It was weather for underwater cameras an my lenses were beginning to mist up. Wildlife is important and we are just another species in the many that make up our world and the extreme rate of species loss at the moment is already beginning to affect us. Unless we halt climate change and stop the ecocide due to habitat loss, pesticide use, over-fishing and other things that are destroying wild life our own species is also under threat of extinction.

I stuck it out until the march began and then took the tube rather than walk in the rain, coming back to meet them and take pictures again on Pall Mall. They were going on to another rally, but I’d had enough of getting my cameras wet and decided to call it a day.

There were some other events in my diary, but none that I felt strongly enough about to make a trip to take pictures. But on my way to Charing Cross station I photographed a protest in Trafalgar Square.

The People The Fadaii Guerrillas of Iran in London and the Democratic Anti-imperialist Organisation of Iranians in London were remembering the massacre of 18,000 political prisoners in between July and September 1988 on the 30th anniversary and calling for an end to the massacres of Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Balouchis and communists and others in the brutal represssion that is following the mass protests in Iran in January 2018. These have included six Kurdish activists who were executed earlier in the month.

I was pleased then to get on a train and make my way home, though I still had several hours of work to do to edit, process and select images and send them to the agency.

You can see more pictures on My London Diary from all these:
End executions in Iran
People’s Walk for Wildlife
Please feed the lions


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.