Seed Mixtures Support Bees

The mass dying of bees in central Europe and in many other parts of the world is not only a problem for beekeepers every year but a severe danger for the whole ecosystem. Many reasons are given for this phenomenon, like parasites, viruses, foulbrood or pesticides, but hardly any solution has been found, yet.

This may now change as the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences in Bern, Switzerland (HAFL), developed special seed mixtures with plants providing bees with enough nutrients in difficult periods. The project was supported by apisuisse, the Inforama Rütli, the farmers’ associations of Bern and Switzerland and fenaco/UFA-Samen.

Bees are especially in trouble finding food when their main sources like rapeseed, dandelion and fruit are withered and before the forests supply them with “food”. The meadows growing from the Swiss seed mixtures help the bees to be nourished in these critical times – helping them to survive with positive effects on their development, health and defense constitution.

The seed mixtures were tested and compared to conventional meadows with wild herbs: five times more honeybees and two to three times more wild bees approached the Swiss meadow! Another advantage is that the seeds easily grow on all kinds of soil, either poor or rich.

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England’s Supermarkets Add Gardening Products to Their Assortment

Large English supermarket chains are stocking up on live plants, flower pots, seeds and gardening tools. Morrisons recently opened over one hundred small garden centres outside their supermarkets, Waitrose contracted the renowned garden reporter Alan Titchmarsh to promote their gardening products and Next is going to open twenty “Home & Garden” stores in which they tell to sell “literally everything for gardening”.

The latest Garden Products Distribution Market Report published by industry analysts AMA Research in March forecasts that sales of gardening products will grow 15 per cent by 2016. The supermarkets see their chances and  expand into this market.

Owners of garden centres are not happy with this development. They fear a decline in the value of gardening products. Iain Wylie, CEO of the Garden Centre Association told the Daily Telegraph: “Supermarkets can’t stock the depth or have the knowledgeable people garden centers have. […] Quality suffers and there are more imports. Conversely it gives garden centres a greater opportunity to sell more varieties and demystify growing.”

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New CEO at Weber-Stephen

On April 1st Tom Koos joined grill manufacturer Weber-Stephen as new Chief Executive Officer. He follows Jim Stephen who will be staying in the company as Executive Chairman.

Koos has been head of the Jacuzzi Brands Corporation for the last six years. He had full strategic and operating responsibility and developed consumer marketing programs. Weber-Stephen chose him due to his worldwide business experience, passion for building brands and deep knowledge of the distribution channels.

“I am honored and excited to join the Weber team, a global barbecue pioneer and one of America’s most recognized and trusted brands,” said Tom Koos. “I am committed to continuing the tradition of delivering high quality products and customer service the world is expecting from Weber.”

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Hardware Store Industry in Germany, Switzerland and Austria – Stable Development

Hardware- and building supplies’ stores in Germany, Switzerland and Austria look back on a positive year 2012. Germany registered a slight sales drop while the markets in Austria and Switzerland increased slightly.

Hardware stores in Germany made a turnover of 18.6 billion Euros which is 0.6 per cent less than in 2011. BHB speaker Erich Huwer commented: “This means that the sales figures are still at a good level and nearly stable.” The BHB declared that considering the European debt crisis and the bad weather conditions in 2012 these numbers are satisfactory.

The Hardware store industry in Austria made a combined turnover of 2.2 billion Euros which means a sales growth of 1.7 per cent compared to last year. For comparison: The total retail industry of Austria had a sales growth of 1.1 per cent in 2012.

Switzerland shows a positive development as well. While 2011 was more of a difficult year for the industry, the combined turnover in 2012 was 1.85 billion Euros, which is a growth of 4.6 per cent compared to last year.

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Study Shows the Desire for Green Spaces

Nature is good for our health and good for our well-being. We know from many recent studies that green spaces relieve us from stress and raise our overall health in many ways. But growing urbanization and tighter schedules prevent us from spending time outdoors in green environments.

The Husqvarna Group published its Global Green Space Report 2013. 4676 citizens from nine countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Sweden and USA) were asked about their relationship to gardens, parks and forests. Two third of the people surveyed believe that visiting and interacting with green spaces contributes a lot to a person’s quality of life and even 89 per cent consider having access to green spaces a human right. On the other hand up to forty per cent of all people asked admitted that they only visit a park once every three months, when it comes to forests people go there even less.

The overall numbers about how much time we actually spend in nature are declining year after year. There is a widening gap between what people tell and how they behave. No doubt, there is enthusiasm for nature, however, people tend to stay at home or spend their free time with activities indoors. For 35 per cent of the surveyed people the desire to interact with nature is so intense, that they think of becoming a landscape architect or a gardener if they could start their lives all over again.

There is no easy solution to reconnect people with nature but one important finding of the study is that the more contact people have with green spaces the more they long for it. People with gardens tend to spend more time with nature and take other people with them outdoors. Involved people involve others.

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