Drumroll, please....

And we have a winner!

Congratulations to pinkundine - the winner of Mighty Distractible's very first give-away. She will be receiving a lovely skein of Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter yarn in the colorway Woodsmoke.

Thank you to everyone who participated. We really enjoy trying out new products and hope to do more reviews and giveaways in the very near future. As a matter of fact, if you have anything in particular you'd like us to try out - a book, a fabric, a yarn, a notion of some sort, etc - please let us know!  Just email us or leave a comment in our comment section.

=========================== Today's post:

In keeping with the review theme, I'd like to tell you all about a movie I saw yesterday. Queen of the Sun is a documentary about bees - specifically, about the bee crises that we're facing in the US and Europe. It was fascinating and I'd really like to encourage everyone to see it.

Bees are suffering from something called "colony collapse disorder." This is a phenomena where an entire colony of bees will abruptly disappear for no apparent reason. In the US alone, we've lost over 5 million colonies in recent years which accounts for nearly half of the country's the bee population. Interestingly, Australia and New Zealand have not experienced colony collapse, as yet.

Scientists are scrambling to discover why this is happening - and for good reason. Bees are critical to our ecosystem and, if we don't have them to pollinate our fields, we will, quite literally, have no crops. Imagine if your only food was oats and potatoes... no fruit, no vegetables, no tree nuts, etc. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The domino effect that would happen if the bees died out is really complex and frightening.

For years people have speculated that colony collapse is a result of pesticides, genetic engineering of crops, the widespread use of hormones and antibiotics in farming, and various other reasons. This movie posits that the real culprit is mono-culture farming - ie: 600 acres of nothing but soy. Or corn. Or almonds. Or whatever. When you farm a single crop over such a huge expanse, the bees can't live on that land year-round. They need things that bloom throughout a long season so they can build up their stores for winter hibernation. If they can only pollinate for one month (or less) they die out, or move somewhere else.

Perhaps the most disturbing image in the movie was the scene of tractor-trailers trucking thousands of hives across country in order to pollinate the almond crop in California. It was the most unnatural thing you could imagine - they feed the bees corn syrup laced with antibiotics in order to "wake them up" so they can pollinate 600 acres of trees and then get shipped back to their home state - sometimes as far away as New England. Many bees die along the way and the mix of bees from different regions of the country means that they're passing mites and diseases back and forth and then trucking those illnesses back to their home states. It's just wrong on a lot of levels.

He brushes his bees with his mustache
Now that I've totally bummed you out, I promise that the movie is hopeful and lovely and sweet. Biodynamic and organic beekeepers from all over the world are interviewed for this film and they are a amazingly dedicated and quirky bunch of folks. The gorgeous shots of bees and flowers are interspersed with fun, animated sections used to illustrate some of the stories.

Those who know me know that I've been talking about having a backyard hive for a couple of years. Last fall, I cleared it with my next-door neighbor (just to be sure no one was going to totally freak out) and I picked out the hive I want to buy (a very small, low-honey-producing one.) So, now I just need to get everything ordered and join the local bee-keeping society because I'm pretty sure I'm going to need some help with this new hobby.

Please read about hive collapse or see the movie. There are a lot of threats to our ecology today but this one is fixable if we act now.

- Alex

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