Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Keystone Cops

I didn't really pay much attention to bees before I got the allotment. Well, apart from runnning away from them in a terribly girlish fashion if they got too close. Now, I've become really fascinated. There are a couple of hives on the lottie so the plants get visited by quite a few different types of honey and bumble bees. I still don't know one type from the next but I'm learning.

We are really dependent on bees for our food and yet tend to take their function for granted. Bees are what is known as a 'keystone species' as so many other organisms are dependent on them doing their job of pollination. Recent media stories about bees deserting their hives in the US have shown us just how much we rely on these critters for what we eat. The Horniman museum in London opened an exhibition this month called 'Every Third Mouthful' focussing on just this topic. I've pasted the blurb below and I hope to get down for a visit as it runs until May next year.

'This fascinating exhibition, which amalgamates science and art, from the assertion that ‘Every third mouthful of food we eat is dependent upon the unmanaged pollination services of bees’. Peter Chatwin and Pamela Martin have created a series of works that explore this internationally important subject, highlighting the importance of biodiversity upon our food supply, and the uncertain future as bee numbers diminish globally.'

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And so to bed

It has been an age since I last updated the blog. Work on the allotment seems to mostly consist of digging these days which is not the most inspiring work to write about. The beds are overgrown and weedy, so I'm trying to knock them into shape before everything starts growing quickly again. Planted some Solent Wight garlic today and cut back an invading mass of brambles and the tall stems of nettles which were growing between them. The autumn planted onions are just beginning to sprout and the phacelia sown as a green manure a few weeks ago is starting to give a bit of cover. Not sure if I need to protect the onions with fleece or if they are hardy enough to withstand dropping temperatures but I've left them to their own devices for now.