Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What We Now Know – and Don’t Know -- About Honeybees and Colony Collapse Disorder

by Robbie Shell

1. First, a definition: Colony Collapse Disorder is a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony (hive) disappear, leaving behind a queen, food, nurse bees and baby bees. Without the mature worker bees to bring nectar and pollen back to the hive, it collapses (dies). CCD was first identified in 2006. Ever since, it has been a huge concern for the agricultural industry -- which relies on bees to pollinate crops -- and for commercial beekeepers, who earn most of their money renting out their bees to big farms around the country.
For example, California’s almond crop – estimated at somewhere around 800,000 acres – relies almost exclusively on billions of bees trucked in to pollinate almost 400 miles of almond groves stretched across the state’s Central Valley.

2. Keep in mind that CCD does not have just one cause: Many factors contribute to its presence, but two major culprits seem to be: overuse of pesticides (see next paragraph), and attacks from parasites (especially the deadly varroa mites) and pests (such as small hive beetles and wax moths).

3. The debate over what causes CCD frequently turns on the question of pesticides, or more specifically, insecticides, a type of pesticide designed to kill insects. Scientists are paying increasing attention to a group of insecticides called neonicotinoids (neonics, for short). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking into whether and how they disrupt bees’ nervous systems. Neonics are manufactured by chemical companies and sold to farmers who use them to eradicate pests on cotton, citrus plants, wheat and corn, among other crops. Chemical companies say the risk from neonics is overstated, and that they are necessary to protect our food supply.
What many scientists, environmentalists, and organic beekeepers do agree on is that all the different insecticides and herbicides used on farms and in fields -- as well as those sprayed in hives to fend off mites, fungi and other intruders -- create what has been called a “toxic soup” of chemicals. Chronic exposure to these chemicals, say opponents of pesticide use, can make it difficult for bee colonies to breed and resist disease.

4. Colony Collapse Disorder remains the subject of continually evolving new theories. Some scientists now suggest that climate change could throw off pollination schedules because warmer weather affects where plants grow and when they bloom. Bees may not be primed to meet the needs of these new schedules. Recent decisions by big agricultural producers to use all available soil for growing crops, thereby removing acres of land once filled with wildflowers and other sources of nutrition for bees, are cited as another potential contributor to CCD.
Then there are the spooky “ZomBees,” a term used to describe bees infected by parasitic “zombie flies.” Eggs laid by zombie flies in a bee’s abdomen hatch into larvae that eat away at the bee’s brain and wings. Disoriented by these attacks, the bees begin to behave in uncharacteristic ways. They leave their hives at night (which healthy bees rarely do), dance (not the helpful waggle kind), and then fall to the ground, crawling around blindly in circles until they die.

5. Some interesting, and discouraging, numbers: The U.S. Agriculture Department’s (USDA) latest figures on honeybee mortality rates estimate that between April 2014 and April 2015, 42% of U.S. honeybee colonies died. This compares to 34% the preceding year. For the first time last year (2015), the number of honeybee deaths during the summer was greater than in the winter -- not a good sign given that hives are expected to be stronger and healthier in warm weather, and more stressed in the cold months.
The total number of managed honeybee colonies has decreased from 5 million in the 1940s to 2.5 million today, according to the USDA.
What’s clear is that everyone – no matter what they choose to blame CCD on – needs to work together to save the bees. As Sam’s father says in Bees on the Roof: “We’ve managed to create a society that’s in danger of killing them off. Bees have been around for what, millions of years? And here our highly sophisticated, technologically advanced, space age civilization seems to be doing nothing as they’re all destroyed.”

Robbie Shell is a former business journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal and Philadelphia Inquirer. She has worked and lived in New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia. Bees on the Roof is her first work of fiction. Connect with Shell on FacebookGoodreads and at

Season Finale of Diverse and Fabulous Emmy-Winner #BornThisWay Airs Tonight

A&E Renews Series for Third Season

Text: The Emmy-Award winning series returns: Born This Way with images of the castWashington, Sept. 27 – Following its Emmy win for outstanding unstructured reality show, Born This Way has been renewed by A&E for a third season. This is the first time a series starring a cast with disabilities has won an Emmy Award.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, Born This Way, an unscripted reality show on A&E, follows the lives of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. Because its focus is on showing their everyday lives, including employment, efforts for independent housing, loves and more, Born this Way breaks down stigmas surrounding disability.

Show creator and Executive Producer Jonathan Murray, the innovator behind the first-ever reality-show, The Real World, and many other hit shows including Keeping Up with the Kardashians, credits the show’s positive message and groundbreaking vision of diversity on screen with the show’s success.

“In thinking about the show, we wanted to focus on the ability within the disability and I think that is what is exciting to see,” said Murray. “We are also very proud of the fact that our cast is very diverse. Born This Way is not only the first show to win an Emmy that stars people with disabilities – it also has a cast that includes people who are African American, Hispanic andAsian. This is a breakthrough for those minority communities as well.”

Unlike Murray’s first reality TV show success, The Real World, where the cast live together in a single house, Born This Way not only focuses on the lead cast but also incorporates their parents. While the cast all has Down syndrome, they and their families are extremely diverse.

John is an African American from Los Angeles who lives with his supportive family. He continues to pursue his dream of becoming a rap artist and entertainer but has a lot of life skills to master before he is ready to live on his own.

Cristina, who is Hispanic, currently lives with her family. She and her fiancée Angel continue to look forward to their wedding and the series shows them preparing for a life together.

Elena is an immigrant from Japan. After moving to Torrance, England, and then Australia, her family moved to Rolling Hills Estates in 2002. She now lives in Lawndale in a group home. Her mother’s cultural story is woven throughout the series.

“As her mother, Hiromi, says, there was almost shame for her for having a child that was not perfect in her society’s view,” Murray says. “It’s taken Hiromi nearly 20 years to be comfortable with that, and you see that on the show. You see her trying to work through those issues.”

In the first season, the series saw viewership trend upwards by 67 percent over the six-episode arc. It resonated particularly well with adults 25 to 54-years-old, growing 84 percent over the season. Recently, the series was chosen as one of six honorees for the 2016 Television Academy Honors, an award that recognizes “television programming that inspires, informs and motivates.”

RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, has been honored to consult during the creation of Born This Way and congratulates the entire team for its hard work in achieving this renewal.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, its president who herself has a disability and who knows what it means to raise a child with multiple disabilities, said: “Recently in the news we have seen scathing political attacks and reporting that showed a man with a traumatic brain injury being shot by police in front of his wife who was screaming that he has a disability. It has been one night of bad news and/or hostility on the news after another. If you want to see something happy, honest and uplifting, watch Born This Way's season finale tonight at 10/9c. I watched this episode in advance and it absolutely blew me away. I was crying my eyes out – in a good way. Unbelievable!”

Mizrahi added, “Born This Way has again made history. I am so glad that there will be a season 3 of the show because it is upbeat, decent, inspiring and impactful on TV. They are ending stigmas and advancing opportunities for people like me and my children, and so many millions of people around the world.”

Murray said it was important to not treat this cast any differently than any other cast, with the exception of shorter work hours.

Instead, he treated them “as you would any other cast member of a reality show.”

The finale of the second season will air tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 10/9c. Prior to the show, join RespectAbility for a #BornThisWay Twitter Chat: #BTWchat. Learn more here: Born This Way #BTWChat: September 27.

About RespectAbility
RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, is on the front lines in the battle to reduce stigmas and other obstacles that deny people with disabilities the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

One area of concern is entertainment; films and television can and must do much more to reshape attitudes so that people with disabilities can more fully participate in and contribute to society. We know that by putting people with disabilities on TV – in scripted television, reality TV, the news and in jobs behind scenes — it can help empower people with disabilities to achieve as much of the American Dream as their abilities and efforts permit.

Entertainment contributes to the values and ideals that define us; and what we desire to share with our children. What we see, we feel. In addition, what we feel impacts how we act.

RespectAbility encourages arts and entertainment leaders – just as we encourage businesses in every sector – to recognize the disability but respect the ability. We ask them to focus on what people with disabilities can do, rather than on what they cannot. We want the power of arts and entertainment to help move the needle of perception regarding people with disabilities so that people of ALL abilities can achieve the American Dream.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

#CellProDesign Edge Armband

Cell Pro's Galaxy 6s Edge Armband is perfect for your workout needs.

You can purchase the armband on Amazon, and currently is is just under $11.  Very affordable price for a quality product.

I received the armband in black for review purposes, which is great, as black matches everything and my husband can use it as well.  It is also available in fuchsia pink, which I think is awesome and would love to purchase one in pink to use myself.  I can't wait until the weather warms up and I can take this outside.  I love to go on long walks, and there isn't anywhere to put my cell phone if I wear yoga pants, most of them have no pockets. :(  So this is perfect!  The material is comfortable, and this is GREAT for walking and running and more.  It isn't very stretchy so you need to pay attention to the sizing, which states it allows for up to 16" biceps.  I see no reason you couldn't also use this on your leg or ankle if you wanted as well.

I took a few pictures after it arrived, and I need to take one of it in action...but I'm not really too keen on sweaty selfies... ;)

I love that it has pockets for your ID or a few dollars, etc, so you can keep those on you as well.

I have a Galaxy s3 and it fits perfectly well in this, and my husband has an s6 and, of course, that fits well too.  I like that you can easily see through the cover to the phone and even still use your touchscreen.  Awesome feature.

Here is what Cell Pro has to say:

  • PERFECT FIT For Samsung Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge (5.1") , CellPRO Armband is specially designed for Samsung Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge and keeps your phone Fully Protected! Wear it everywhere with No Hassle!
  • 2 CARD POCKET SLOTS! Leave your Wallet or Purse at Home and Take your Credit Cards, Driver's License, ID or Business Cards with you! We made sure that you'll have 2 perfect slots for them all!
  • SIZING: CellPRO Arm band is small enough to fit smaller arms, but you can also adjust the comfortable soft stretchable velcro strap, which allows up to about 16" biceps. OPTION A: 12.0-16.0" [30.4 - 40.5 cm] or OPTION B: 8.0-11.5" [20.3-29.2 cm]
  • LIGHTWEIGHT SOFT NEOPRENE that is molded to twist and bend but will not stretch out of shape. Washable with gentle soap and water, then air dry. Can keep sweat away from your phone. ? TOUCHSCREEN works PERFECT through the clear cover! ? The REFLECTIVE BAND makes you more visible in the night so you can feel safe all the time. It helps you to be noticed in those moment when you need to focus on running not avoiding cars or bikes.
  • OUR CUSTOMERS SATISFACTION is priceless, so if for any REASON you don't absolutely LOVE our Armband, just send us a message and we will do our best to help you! Don't forget that we offer ? LIFETIME WARRANTY ? so TRY IT ON OUR RISK!

I absolutely love that they take customer satisfaction so seriously.  A few days after ordering the product I got an email asking to make sure everything was ok, and if I was completely satisfied.  I thought that was very nice, especially considering I ordered through Amazon.  It gave it a personal touch.  I was happy to find out that there is a lifetime warranty as well.  That's excellent for such an inexpensive product to begin with.  Cell Pro stands behind their work.

*I received one or more of the products mentioned above for the purposes of this review through the above mentioned company or representing PR agency. In the event of a giveaway, the prize is shipped by the sponsor and I hold no responsibility. Thank you for reading!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Portable North Pole - Messages from Santa

A few years ago, someone shared a website with me during the holiday season, and said I had to check it out for my daughters.  So, I did.  I found that I could make a video for each of my children FROM SANTA CLAUS!  I knew immediately what a special memory that would make, so I made the videos and excitedly told my girls, that Santa had left them a special message. They were over the moon excited!  Their very own video message from Santa. THE SANTA. Just for them. It was precious.

Thus, a new tradition was born.  I was so excited when the next year I found a new video to send.  My girls loved it.  They have been receiving special videos from Santa for a few years now, and look forward to it each year.

The website, is Portable North Pole.  What is amazing about this site, is that it is so personal, it helps Santa to say your child's name and even checks pronunciation.  It is so customize-able for each child, it's simply amazing the thought and detail that went into this site.  Not only that, but each year, there is a completely FREE video!  There is the option to sign up for a paid account, where you would have access to seven different videos as well as the option to receive a phone call from Santa.  I definitely think it's worth it to sign up and be able to send your child more than one different message, and especially if you have more than one child, to send each child a different message... but the free video is always great!

I made my girls videos this year and with the premium service was able to make them each their own special, different videos. It was so neat to hear them chat with each other about their messages from Santa.  My youngest got to tour the North Pole's post office, and my oldest got to see her very own Elf!  They were each a big hit.  I love how easy they are to make, and that you can include photos and information about your child to really make it personal.  They LOVED seeing their books on the shelf with the books of other people in our family and people they knew near theirs.

*I received one or more of the products mentioned above for the purposes of this review through the above mentioned company or representing PR agency. In the event of a giveaway, the prize is shipped by the sponsor and I hold no responsibility. Thank you for reading!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare on HSN

Mark your calendar now to tune into HSN on October 29th where Christie Brinkley will be back to share the details behind her skincare collection – Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare!

This breakthrough skincare line features products from a IR-Defense Day Cream to a Foaming Cleanser that address multiple signs of aging.

Stay tuned because we may have a giveaway in the works!