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Bees Are Thriving As Pollution Plummets and Environmental Conditions Improve

A much-needed bit of news we can certainly “bee” grateful for!

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(TMU) – With nearly every facet of humanity facing disruption and economic activities screeching to a halt, the world has witnessed nature being given a break that has perhaps no precedent in the modern era. As a result, marine life.

And with the lockdown leading to less pollution, less traffic and a marked improvement in the environmental conditions across the globe, bees are thriving in a way they haven’t in years, reports Metro.

The “new normal” of people shopping locally, traveling less, and not cluttering roads with cars is having a healing effect on bee colonies, according to the U.K.’s largest bee farm, Denrosa Apiaries.

Because of the marked improvements to the environment, 43-year-old beekeeper Helen McGregor believes that her community has become keenly aware of the need to preserve nature.

McGregor said:

“Less traffic, less pollution is bound to make a difference to the environment which of course has a positive knock-on effect for bees.

“I think people are more aware of what’s going on around them and in the countryside just now because of lockdown. Hopefully we see these changes lasting.”

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The beekeeping operation has been in business since the 1940s in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. With 4,000 hives each filled with 50,000 bees, the massive commercial beekeeping operation founded by McGregor’s grandfather Kenneth has even produced honey for the British royal family.

And with environmental conditions improving, Helen is noticing a cultural shift among locals. She explained:

“They are more aware of nature, maybe seeing hives when they are out and about and thinking more about the food they are eating and where it comes from.

“It’s taking people back to their roots, making them look at what’s necessary in life and what’s not, it’s back to a basic outlook on life.”

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The overall health of the bees at the farm isn’t just a factor that impacts Denrosa Apiaries – it also has a strong impact on the agrarian economy of the rural Scottish region.

Bees are perhaps one of the most important managed pollinators in agriculture. Spreading the male sex cells of flowers to their female counterparts in a natural process that is highly crucial to plant reproduction.

Helen noted:

“We have hundreds of sites from down in England, all the way up to Aberdeenshire, with billions of bees.

“A lot of farmers are looking for bees to help with crop pollination. We have mini hives which we use to build up bee levels and we breed our own queen bees.”

The beekeeping operation now has hundreds of sites scattered across the U.K. with four or five teams checking about six sites daily. Helen added:

“It’s very early in our season to say what production is going to be like but the bees are busy bringing back nectar and pollen.

“We are at the mercy of the weather and could do with some rain as the ground is very dry.”

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, pollinators are worth anywhere from $235 and $577 billion worldwide owing to their pivotal role in the production of global crops.  In the U.S., for example, bees are estimated to be responsible for no less than $20 billion of domestic crop production. However, the health of bee colonies has been threatened by warming climate conditions, diseases and parasites, and the food industry’s over reliance on pesticides and other agro-industrial chemicals.

Without bees we would likely have to kiss almonds, blueberries, watermelon, chili peppers, tomatoes, and other crops goodbye.

So this news from the U.K. is most definitely a much-needed bit of news we can certainly “bee” grateful for!

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years

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Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.

Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.

The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.

Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.

It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.

“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”

Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.

Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.

“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.

“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”

Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.

“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.

Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.

“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”

In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.

Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.

A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.

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