Environment & healthy living    2021/20


Sept 20 Conference at Rothamsted Research for Academics, Company CEO’s and Scientists PLUS 4 year 13 Geographers from Roundwood Park School

Rothamsted scientists working in collaboration to find out what makes the varroa parasite of honey bees resistant to chemical treatment.

One of the biggest problems facing honey bees, the parasitic mite Varroa destructor (varroa) is now found almost worldwide and usually kills untreated hives within three years. For varroa control, many beekeepers use the chemical tau-fluvalinate, marketed as Apistan®, but its effectiveness has been in decline since the mid­­-1990s. Scientists studying varroa mites collected from Florida and Georgia, USA, have identified two new mutations that give the parasites resistance to tau-fluvalinate.

The discovery of the two mutations enables testing of varroa populations to determine whether control with tau-fluvalinate will be effective. The research was carried out by scientists working in Spain, the USA and Germany in collaboration with a team at Rothamsted Research, which is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The study is published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

Joel González-Cabrera, scientist at Rothamsted Research who led the study, said: “We identified the mutations in a known hot-spot for pyrethroid resistance on the sodium channel protein—a region proposed as the binding site for these compounds. Together with our previous work on European mites, this finding allows us to develop diagnostic screening tests to analyse individual mites for the presence or absence of the mutations. The diagnostic test should help beekeepers to decide whether to use pyrethroid-based chemicals to control this highly damaging parasite.”

How important are Honey Bees to our everyday lives?

  1. 1• Honeybees, together with other types of bees and pollinating insects, increase the yields of about 75% of the crop species grown worldwide

  2. 2· The value of pollination performed by these insects has been estimated at €153 billion per year

Important facts about Honey Bees and Honey

  1. 1·The number of honeybee hives in Europe declined by 16% between 1985-2005. In the USA colony numbers dropped 61% between 1947-2008.

  2. 2·Honey is nectar that bees have repeatedly regurgitated and dehydrated

  3. 3·A single hive contains approximately 40,000-45,000 bees

  4. 4· A queen can lay her weight in eggs in one day and 200,000 eggs in a year

  5. 5·The queen mates in flight with approximately 18 drones. She only mates once in her lifetime

  6. 6·Honeybees communicate with one another by 'dancing' so as to give the direction and distance of flowers

  7. 7·The Varroa mite is a major pest species of the honey bee

  8. 8·In the course of her lifetime, a worker bee will produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey

  9. 9·To make one pound of honey, workers in a hive fly 55,000 miles and tap two million flowers

Aug 2020. Clean, Clean and Green.

Harpenden’s MP Bim Afolami has announced his intentions to ensure that we have cleaner air, cleaner living and cleaner transport going forward over the next 5 years and beyond.This will mean a large increase in the use of electric cars, much more cycling and strengthening the Green Belt.

1.He is working on how to develop a network of fast charge points across the constituency within 3 years combined  with incentives for local people to buy electric cars.

  1. 2.Making cycling safe in Harpenden and the connecting towns and villages will require a 5 year plan to develop a full network of cycle routes; expanding the length of the Nickey Line and financing a network of local electric bikes that anyone can use.

3. He spoke recently with the Prime Minister who stressed to him the clear importance of protecting the Green Belt in areas like ours. He will working on a proposal  in the run up to the Autumn Budget for the Government to help Harpenden fund the planting of more trees.

All of these objectives will be managed with the help of  private sector partners, campaigners from Wheathampstead inc County Councillor Annie Brewster and many others.

Follow Harpendia for ongoing announcements from Bim

Jan 2021. Addressing the  climate emergency in Harpenden and St Albans.

SADC are implementing more than 100 actions towards making the District carbon neutral by the end of the decade. It is part of a sustainability strategy that has been developed in 2020.

* The creation of more charging points for electric vehicles and improving the energy efficiency of council homes.

* Energy audits of buildings such as Westminster Lodge and the Civic Centre will look at how energy consumption  can be reduced.

  1. *From October the council will take energy supplies will be taken from a provider that guarantees only renewable sources will be used.


The Portfolio Holder and Chair of this Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Chris Whyte is

being recommended to take the following actions:

  1. 1.Write to the Department for Transport (DfT) to emphasise the need to implement the Future Airspace Strategy Implementation (FASI) and to prioritise that over further expansion at London Luton Airport, since the pressure on capacity is likely to be much reduced once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

  2. 2.Make joint representations to encourage the UK Government to prioritise accelerating the reduction in climate damaging emissions rather than growth in passenger and flight numbers, with particular reference to Luton Airport’s imminent expansion plans.

  3. 3.Make representations to London Luton Airport Operations Ltd and the airport owners, Luton Borough Council, to seek a comprehensive and realistic action plan for reducing all emissions relating to the airport and use of the airport which meets the needs of the climate emergency.

  4. 4.Make representations to the Head of Planning at Luton Borough Council with regard to planning permissions being sought at London Luton Airport, drawing attention to the apparent attempt to use the planning system to move the goals on their maximum passenger numbers rather than meet their current requirements.  Also, to request the Borough Council to transfer approximately 500 representations made in respect of the first planning application (reference 19/00428/EIA) to the second (i.e. the current) application.

  5. 5.Make joint representations to Anthony Aldridge to press the airport to improve low carbon ground transport options, such as detailed plans for an east-west modal shift, with the objectives of reducing emissions and traffic, especially on the District’s local and country roads.

  6. 6.Write to Network Rail to ask how potential Railfreight terminal operations at Radlett on the Midland main line might impact on the capacity for the anticipated increase in train passenger numbers en route to and from London Luton Airport, following its proposed expansion.

  7. 7.Write to the DfT asking for a timeframe and likely scope of future policy to recognise the need for the aviation sector to play its part in achieving net zero by 2050.


Harpenden’s Rothamsted Research plays a leading role in tackling Climate Change with SHAKE.

+ Up to £140k funding available.

SHAKE is a unique Climate Change programme which helps entrepreneurs and start-ups who are combating climate change with science or tech-based ideas in the areas of agriculture and food production. Set over two years it is an active learning programme with 3 phases which focuses on closing the gap in business development between the early start-up stage and investable businesses, through provision of expert care and advice, sourced through the high-profile consortium and its associated network of mentors. Up to £140k funding is available with two years of expert mentoring.

They are not a typical fund. Imagine them more like a family - nurturing collective potential to create something truly amazing, leveraging world class expertise in science, tech and business.

They have a shared passion and a

collective ambition to tackle climate

change who believe they have the

drive, determination and courage to

push the boundaries of the food and

farming industry.

They will support bright ideas,

providing  care, mentorship and

advice well beyond the initial funding

to turn ventures into a reality.

   Now in its third year, the Programme is

hosted and led by Rothamsted Research as

part of a consortium with three leading

universities – Cranfield University, the

University of Hertfordshire and University

College London, with funding by the Societe

Generale Foundation.

   “Virtually every step in the value chain associated with agriculture impacts on climate – from how food is grown or reared, to the way the food is harvested, transported, stored and distributed. In addition, farmers themselves face increasing pressure to deliver sufficient food sustainably, whilst dealing with increasingly unstable climates,” said SHAKE Programme Manager Ms Midtgaard.(above right)

   “At SHAKE, we believe Entrepreneurs have a unique role to play in countering these challenges; they are agile and flexible in their approaches and are unencumbered by the vested interests and legacy investments of larger business and corporates.”

To find out more and to apply, please visit http://www.shakeclimate.org/ and follow SHAKE https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/shakeclimate/ for the latest updates

Deadline for applications is Monday 3rd May by midnight 24.00 CET.