I met this butterfly on a tree yesterday during a hike. As I was clicking photos, I recognized this thing that happens when I begin making a connection with an insect. I could tell the butterfly didn't want to fly away and welcomed my finger approaching her. She let me pet her wings and then she climbed on my finger and let me continue taking photos. What was particularly interesting, even astounding, was how she didn't want to fly away as I walked back home. She stayed on my finger for the entire walk; about two blocks. I don't know why she didn't fly away. It was my first walk with a butterfly! I put her on my front porch railing after I arrived home. I don't know what to think .... it was so amazing.
I met this dragonfly today. This was my second photo shoot focusing on dragonflies, and my first time to connect enough to have one land on me -- on four separate occasions. Over and over, I've experienced communicating with insects to the point that they get curious enough to be fearless around me. I interact in much the same way as I would with a wild animal.
Unlike most animals, however, insects hide their eyes from me. Even this little guy was reluctant to let me look him in the eyes when he was on my finger. Each time I tried to turn him toward me, he would turn his body so that I could not look him in the eyes. Often, only when an insect becomes completely comfortable around me, will they let me snap a photo looking directly at them.
By Betsy Seeton
It's no news to me that animals seek and experience pleasure. I even believe that insects enjoy things. If you closely observe all kinds of creatures, you will notice they exhibit curiosity, fear, and pleasure. I've seen bees dive into flowers thick with pollen and they will wriggle and swim in the pollen over and over. They'll surface and dive right back in and roll around in it. And who hasn't witnessed birds and butterflies seemingly flying for the pure fun of flying? The skeptics may scoff at such notions. In my heart of hearts, I know non-human species experience a wide ranges of emotions, and pleasure is one of them.
The Exultant Ark is written by Jonathan Peter Balcombe.
Katherine Bouton of the NY Times writes, "True to its subtitle — “A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure” — “The Exultant Ark” showcases surprising, funny, touching, sad, heartwarming pictures by photographers all over the world. Dr. Balcombe’s text is a serious examination of the subject of animal pleasure, a study that “remains nascent and largely neglected in scientific discourse.” But it also delights us along the way with Dr. Balcombe’s observations and examples. READ FULL NY TIMES ARTICLE
Of himself Jonathan writes:
"I was born in England, raised in New Zealand and Canada, and have lived in the United States since 1987. I studied biology in Toronto and Ottawa before earning a PhD in ethology (animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, studying communication in bats. My career has been focused mainly on animal protection. I have worked for several non-profit organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, as well as a for-profit company, Immersion Medical. I have written many scientific papers and lay-articles on animal behavior, animal research, and humane education. Recently, I decided to leave traditional office life, and now work as a private consultant. My services include writing for lay- and academic-audiences, public speaking, editing, and creative input. And, of course, I write books! In addition to the three you see featured here, I have another scheduled for publication by the University of California Press around September, 2010. It is titled Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure, and it features stunning photos of animals in pleasurable situations. In my new consulting capacity I am preparing to teach a course (Jan - March 2010) called Animal Behavior, Animal Minds and Animal Protection, for Humane Society University. I also teach soccer clinics to young children aged three to seven. In addition to my professional work, I enjoy biking, wilderness, kayaking, piano (especially Bach), painting, travel, vegan cooking and baking, and reading (preferably with a cat on my lap). I have two websites, www.jonathanbalcombe.com, and www.pleasurablekingdom.com, where (among other things) I post upcoming media and speaking engagements, and occasional musings."
QUEEN OF THE SUN - An important and beautifully filmed documentary about what honey bees are telling the world
ABOUT THE FILM
In 1923, Rudolf Steiner, a scientist, philosopher & social innovator, predicted that in 80 to 100 years honeybees would collapse. His prediction has come true with Colony Collapse Disorder, where bees are disappearing in mass numbers from their hives with no clear single explanation. In an alarming inquiry into the insights behind Steiner’s prediction QUEEN OF THE SUN: What Are the Bees Telling Us? examines the dire global bee crisis through the eyes of biodynamic beekeepers, scientists, farmers, and philosophers. On a pilgrimage around the world, the film unveils 10,000 years of beekeeping, highlighting how our historic and sacred relationship with bees has been lost due to highly mechanized industrial practices. Featuring Michael Pollan, Vandana Shiva, Gunther Hauk and beekeepers from around the world, this engaging, alarming and ultimately uplifting film weaves together a dramatic story that uncovers the problems and solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.
Queen of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? is an in-depth investigation to discover the causes and solutions behind Colony Collapse Disorder; a phenomenon where honeybees vanish from their hives, never to return. Queen of The Sun follows the voices and visions of underrepresented beekeepers, philosophers, and scientists around the world, all struggling for the survival of the bees. While other bee films focus exclusively on commercial beekeepers, this film emphasizes the biodynamic and organic communities who have differing opinions from many commercial beekeepers and are overlooked in other films. read more
The following are interview responses taken with Director, Taggart Siegel by The Press daily newspaper in Christchurch, New Zealand.Feel free to re-print any and all content from this text.
1. What drew you to this as a subject matter for a feature film?
I had no idea about the importance of honeybees until I read an article in 2007 that bees were not only so crucial to our environment, but that they were dying out on a mass scale, a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder. The article had a quote attributed to Einstein which scared me enough to get me to pick up my camera and dedicate the next three years of my life to this film. The quote read, “If bees die out, man will only have four years of life left on earth.” Even though this quote has been since disputed, it had a lasting effect on me, and the truth is that bees are so vital to our planet that we can’t afford to lose them.
2. How did you find all your interview subjects around the world? In particular how did you choose your NZ subjects?
Many of my subjects were complete surprises and turned out to be very charismatic. There’s bee historian Yvon Achard who tickles his bees with his mustache and recites poetry to his bees, Sara Mapelli, who danced with 12,000 bees on her body, and Ian Davies, who likes to go up on his rooftop in Hackney, London where he keeps his beehives and spend time with “his girls”. Philip, his step son, who was once the youngest beekeeper in the U.K. names all of the queen bees after the Queens of England.
Coming off of making The Real Dirt on Farmer John, which was about an eccentric maverick farmer, I had a passion to find biodynamic, natural, organic and alternative beekeepers who were doing things differently and had unique insight into many of the possible causes for bee decline across the globe. I focused on biodynamic beekeepers because of a prediction made by Rudolf Steiner who lectured on bees and biodynamic farming. In 1923 he stated that bees would die out in 80 to 100 years due to industrialized beekeeping and over queen breeding.
For the New Zealand subjects, what inspired me was spending the last seventeen years living part-of the year in Pigeon Bay in Banks Peninsula. I wanted to capture the beauty of New Zealand and their long history of beekeeping, including Sir Edmund Hilary, who was a beekeeper. In New Zealand I focused on Warren Thompson and his wife and three daughters from the south island around Hanmer Hot Springs. Warren has a passion for the honeybee, which is so small but creates so much honey. Each member of the family is a beekeeper. The daughters roll beeswax candles to sell at the market to help pay for their ponies. I wanted to capture the close relationship this family has with nature and especially Warren’s insights into how to keep bees and nature strong without artificial influences that ultimately weaken the bees. The other great beekeeper was “Big Hands” Roy Arbon, who is an organic beekeeper on the west coast near Punakiki. READ FULL INTERVIEW
Click to go to Inspired Beeing
With a mighty wingspan of 183 cm, Catherine (Cat) Jaffee is a nomadic social entrepreneur ready to take the world by swarm. Raised on a farm in the Colorado Rockies, Cat grew up loving animals, dirt, and altitude. Her dedication and passion for animals, agriculture, and women leaders has launched her across the world as a Luce and Fulbright scholar: to raise Aigamo ducks in Japan, to research yak trade caravans in Sikkim, and to study rural women’s migration in Turkey. In particular, Turkey - with its fish hung like laundry from windows, its 9,000 species of flowers, and its delicious honey - continues to lure Cat back to its borders. Cat’s love for Turkey, the mountains, agriculture, and women’s leadership blend together sweetly in her new venture Balyolu and her blog Inspired Beeing.
By Catherine Jaffee straight from her website:
Its June 2011. I just quit my job and purchased a plane ticket to Turkey. My mission: to study honey bees in the country’s wild, remote, and beautiful Northeast. And if I survive? Start a social venture.
This blog is a collection of quick-witted posts on the start of my journey. It is also an exploration into the story behind bees, and how they have struck the hearts and minds of beekeepers, activists, foodies, entrepreneurs, authors, celebrities, and fictional characters world-wide.
Inspired Beeing is an attempt to compile these accounts of discovery, trial, and inspiration in one creative sweet sticky blog. To learn more about the fresh underbelly of entrepreneurship, social good, and honey bees (or the wily adventures of Cat Jaffee) explore the site and check back in often! READ MORE
Children work in the mines from sun up to sun down,
six days a week for 20 cents a day, which might buy
them as much as two potatoes to eat a day.
Click image to enter their website.
There's also a video below that you can click to watch.
Back in March of 2010 I wrote about one of my huge wake up calls (posted on my 3/10/10 blog) after reading a statement by the Surfrider Foundation: "...more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die every year from ingestion of or entanglement in plastics." It inspired me to take the pledge to make changes in my own life. I've long known about the problems with plastic and I've tried to reduce my use, but I wasn't very vigilant. I will be now. I was remiss to not be more proactive before now. Read More..
WSJ photo of NY trash around xmas 2010
It's been over a year now since that wake up call and I've successfully stopped using plastic grocery sacks. It took months to change my ways, but finally I created my new habit of carrying cloth bags to the store. I've cut way down on plastic bottles, but haven't been able to cut them out completely. It will take more commitment on my part. I'm working on it. If I buy plastic bottles, I reuse them for months. But that's not good enough. I need to stop altogether.
According to http://www.rawstory.com/, "The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has launched an investigation into claims that parents are paying doctors to turn girls into boys, according to The Telegraph.A report published by Hindustan Times Sunday said that doctors in the state had already converted as many as 300 girls ages 1-5. Surgeries are said to cost as much as $3,200 each. The gender change surgery -- known as genitoplasty -- fashions a penis from female sex organs. The child is then given hormonal treatment to complete the change."
The following is an article written by Amrita U Kadam printed in the Hindustan Times
Indore, June 26, 2011
Girls are being 'converted' into boys in Indore - by the hundreds every year - at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation.
This shocking, unprecedented trend, catering to the fetish for a son, is unfolding at conservative Indore's well-known clinics related stories and hospitals on children who are 1-5 years old. The process being used to 'produce' a male child from a female is known as genitoplasty. Each surgery costs Rs 1.5 lakh.
Moreover, these children are pumped with hormonal treatment as part of the sex change procedure that may be irreversible.
The low cost of surgery and the relatively easy and unobtrusive way of getting it done in this city attracts parents from Delhi and Mumbai to get their child surgically 'corrected'.
About 7-8% cases come from the metros, say doctors.
While genitoplasty is relatively common - it is used to correct genital abnormality in fully-grown patients - the procedure is allegedly being misused rampantly to promise parents a male child even though they have a female child. READ FULL ARTICLE
Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives.
Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables.
Vanishing of the Bees follows commercial beekeepers David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes as they strive to keep their bees healthy and fulfill pollination contracts across the U.S. The film explores the struggles they face as the two friends plead their case on Capital Hill and travel across the Pacific Ocean in the quest to protect their honeybees.
Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia and Asia, this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the greater meaning it holds about the relationship between mankind and mother earth. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers indicate alternative reasons for this tragic loss. Conflicting options abound and after years of research, a definitive answer has not been found to this harrowing mystery.
TRT 90 min
click the image to watch the trailer
I'm an artist, writer, photographer, private investigator and an activist in small ways.
"Turning indifference into making a difference."
A labor of love website devoted to animal and human rights, and better living. A place to be inspired ...
My LADYBUG book is filled with beautiful images & inspiring quotes. Click here for more info.
I visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand & later found out it is under investigation for tiger trafficking and animal abuse. Read full story. In 2015 it was raided. More than 100 tigers and protected bird species in Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, popularly known as the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province were impounded by authorities following complaints that the temple was alleged to engage in illegal wildlife trading.
"The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious,
awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS helps people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from healthcare.
Read about life in the woods with Chippy & the crew...