All Green Podcast Ep.5- Save The Bees & New Eco Four Twenty 3D Printed Product Launch
Hey everyone, thank you for stopping by and checking out our newest episode of the All Green Podcast. In this episode, our Head of Marketing, Andrea, and Head of Product Design, Anthony, sit down to talk all things bees!
They discuss beehive sensors in Italy, some interesting bee facts and the unfortunate state of pollinator health and well-being that we're faced with today.
In discussing what we can do to help save our bees, Andrea and Anthony announce the latest addition to our line of Eco Four Twenty products.
3D printed in-house at our Eco Four Twenty offices, proceeds of these new pen and cart stands will go directly to Pollinator Partnership, a charity we're working with to help protect our pollinators.
Check out the transcript of the full episode below, or press play and have a listen yourself.
Andrea: Alright, welcome back to another episode of the All Green Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us again, we have a really really exciting episode planned out for you today. My name's Andrea, I'm coming back to you from the Eco Four Twenty office. We have a guest planned today, we were gonna have Matthew McConaughey but his schedule just didn't work out, but we did get one of my co-workers, Anthony.
He is the Head of our Product Design and In-House 3D Manufacturing and he's taking the lead on an exciting new product that we're gonna be talking about later in this episode, so make sure you stay tuned.
How you feeling, Anthony? How's it feel to be here?
Anthony: It's pretty great, kind've sad about the bees but that's what we're talking about.
Andrea: We're gonna save them. We're gonna single-handedly save them today.
Anthony: Fingers crossed.
Andrea: I have a lot of cool bee-related content that we can talk about and we're also gonna make a cool announcement, so let's jump in!
The first story I have is about bee hive sensors. So basically, bee keepers around the world are very conscious of varying factors that can affect beehive health and the quality and efficiency of honey production. So there's this thing called "nomadic beekeeping", I've never heard of this before, but it's the practice of transporting beehives to locations where specific flowers are in bloom. So the bees can collect nectar from primarily that flower and they then product, what is called, "monofloral honey", which means that it's atleast 40% composed of nectar from a single species of flower. Because there's all these varying factors in beehive health and honey production, things that are outside the control of beekeepers like weather, pesticides, external stressors, things like that, disease as well, they have to find a way to keep track of it.
So there's this Italian Operational Group that's called "NOMADI-App", and it's an app that beekeepers can basically have on their phone and in conjunction with that they have sensors that they install on the beehive. The idea is that these sensors can track those factors really closely and it can tell you things like weight, tells you things like temperature and humidity of the beehive, it tells you local weather conditions and info on flowering times and pesticides.
I think its cool because otherwise you wouldn't really be able to keep track of these things and, I don't know, I just didn't really know that nomadic beekeeping was a thing in general, so I thought that was pretty neat. Did you hear about bee sensors?
Anthony: Well I haven't heard of the bee sensors. I have read up a little bit on nomadic beekeeping, apparently it was first observed in Ancient Egypt when the beekeepers would actually put the beehives in a specialized box and then float it up and down the Nile, depending on the bloom of flowers. But as for sensors, I haven't heard anything on that, that's promising.
Andrea: I feel like it's cool because human intervention is usually a bad thing.
Anthony: It is, and it's usually pretty invasive.
Andrea: And, I don't know, it just seems like- correct me if I'm wrong, but bees produce honey just naturally, like they just produce honey they don't really consume it after a certain point, right? It's just an excess of honey?
Anthony: Well, they'll always have extra honey stores to just ensure against predatory/parasitic attacks. A bear, for example, could-
Andrea: *laughs* I forgot bears eat honey, eh?
Anthony: Yeah, they could eat a significant part of the hive and if the bees don't have enough in the hive to atleast satisfy a bear and then have enough to rebuild their commune on then, they're in trouble. So they'll definitely produce more than they need, but, that doesn't mean that- well. They don't need it any less, they might not eat it but, I think, as for their livelihood and to ensure the next generation, it should always be seen as what they need not what they eat.
Andrea: I mean, it's just a by-product of them existing.
Anthony: I don't want to get in any legal trouble with Jerry Seinfeld but we know how that went.
Andrea: Right, I mean, I don't know. I feel like this was really cool I was pretty surprised to realize how big of a thing beekeeping is, and it's kind've cool that their technological intervention is advanced so far that they can find a way to more accurately track and take care of these things on an individual basis.
Anthony: So long as it's not done for human benefit.
Andrea: That is true but, I don't know, would you consider honey to be vegan?
Anthony: I wouldn't say so. It's uh, an animal's body fluid.
Andrea: It's bee vomit.
Anthony: It's bee vomit. The nectar they collect and all that pollen-
Andrea: Makes your tea sweet.
Anthony: It does! One of the oldest sweeteners.
Andrea: I mean, I don't know, that's just crazy to me. It's pretty cool I'm interested to see even if that can help with long-term data on bees and keeping track of population sizes.
Anthony: I mean I'm sure it's much more useful than, you know, taking a bee out of the hive to kill it, to research it or inspect it. I think-
Andrea: It's like a more non-invasive way.
Anthony: Right. And I think it was only within the last maybe 50 years or so that we fully understood how they flew. So there's the common misconception about how they aren't supposed to be able to fly. But, that's only if you apply the laws of nature in regards to airplane flight, but insects have their own unique way of flying, so. I think there's still a lot we stand to learn from them.
Andrea: That's true, and that's why we have to save them. Speaking of save the bees, so apparently Canadian bee populations are decreasing at an alarming rate. in 2013 and 2014 Canadian beekeepers have lost between 15-29% of their bees, Ontario seems to be the most effected province with a 58% loss in 2014. Right now, 8 wild bee species are listed under Canada's species risk registry, all of which have lost over 50% of their total population and classified them as endangered. One of which is the American bumblebee, so that's sad.
On September 2, 2020, the Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife Canada submitted 21 new assessments of species at risk and 12 of these species are found in Ontario. So that's, I mean, almost double as many from 2014, which is crazy.
The primary cause of bumblebee population decline is habitat loss, land fragmentation, along with pesticide use. In other words, human behaviour is driving the decline. So, we're gonna talk about how we're gonna fix that. We're gonna get into that, but it just puts into perspective how it's unfortunate and we shouldn't just try and save bees only because of what they do for humanity, they do a lot to keep the entire ecosystem.
Anthony: I agree, yeah. In regards to the, one of the questions you asked before about the production, this actually ties into the American bumblebee, so a lot of people when they think of bumblebees they'll assume that those are the bees that produce honey. Which, they only produce a pretty small amount, they're not the main source of honey-the honeybees are a completely separate species, and I don't think a lot of people realize how diverse the lineage is and how important each one of them are to their individual niches. Considering certain bees will prefer certain plants over others, it's not just about pollinators it's about having a variety of pollinators too. I think it's definitely important to give every species of bee equal attention.
Andrea: We love bees. We love all pollinators. Bats are pollinators too, butterflies are pollinators, we got all different types. So, okay the next topic is some fun bee facts. I think we could like, maybe if you have some, I have a couple.
So, the first one that I thought was very interesting is that in their 6-8 week lifespan, a worker bee will fly the equivalent distance of one and a half times the circumference of the earth. I was like, that's crazy! I Googled it, I think it's around 40,000km, the circumference. So that's 60,000, which I think is something along the lines of 1000 km a day, like it's absurd.
Anthony: Wait, that's for a single?
Andrea: What do you mean? It's a worker bee will fly in it's 6-8 week lifespan
Anthony: Oh! It's in its lifespan.
Andrea: Yeah, so I feel like that works out to be 1000km a day or something absurd like that.
Anthony: Yeah it's actually interesting that you jotted down that fact, I have a few prepared and we didn't share them-
Andrea: No, this is genuine reaction.
Anthony: Yeah, but we do have some similar points here. My first bee fact is that, if you were to collectively add together the distance that one hive flies in a day- it's the equivalent of one lunar distance. So the distance between the earth and the moon, which is, I believe around, let's see I don't want to make a mistake here. It's 238,000 miles and each bee is capable of flying up to 5 miles a day. So the hive of 60,000 bees, I think the math works out.
Andrea: Yeah, that's crazy, and they're so small too. Like the energy, I guess is like the sugar, right? Like it's just pure energy for them.
Anthony: Yeah! Well, yeah they do have energy in a very easy to consume form.
Andrea: Yeah, it's cute. Okay my next fact, I thought it was pretty cool, cause it ties into, like. you know the bees went to space before Jeffrey Bezos did, so.
Anthony: Oh, wow!
Andrea: He's really, he's not that special! So in 1984, honeybees on a space shuttle constructed a honeycomb in zero-gravity. Basically, it was an experiment by NASA and they wanted to measure bee behaviour in microgravity environments. They found that after one week in microgravity, the bees basically learned to fly in zero-g and they actually began building a honeycomb. So it implies that they're pretty smart and capable of learning, which is insane. They said that after the first couple days they were still bumping into the walls and stuff, but after they learned to adjust their flight patterns and, it's crazy.
Anthony: They're very adaptable. I wonder if they develop new ways to navigate or if it's even part of their physiology to operate-
Andrea: Like, do they communicate to each other? Like, "Hey, this is the best way to fly", or is it-
Anthony: I do think that they communicate. They use dances, to describe distances and directions to other bees if they were to come back from a particularly-
Andrea: - Fruitful.
Anthony: Right, yeah. One of them finds a wildflower patch or something-
Andrea: "Come on, girls! Over here. Let's get 'em girls." yeah
Anthony: As they do.
Andrea: It's crazy. They're so intelligent. I read somewhere that a very very significant portion like, there would be a huge issue with food security if bees were to cease to exist. The amount of affects that they have on crops and yearly food production and stuff like that, that is insane. So, I don't know man, that's what I'm saying we just gotta do what we can to save the bees. We'll get into it, but it puts into perspective how important they are and the fact that- it was an experiment by NASA, so the fact that they care enough to research bees, they're probably like, "how are these guys flying?", let alone flying in space.
They're gonna make a spaceship that looks like a bee.
Anthony: That would be interesting.
Andrea: It would BEE, very interesting.
Anthony: By the laws of physics, this spaceship should not be able to fly. But it flies anyways.
Andrea: I'd like to think that Jerry Seinfeld and The Bee Movie just really pivoted the save the bees movement.
Anthony: I hope he's doing okay.
Andrea: Yeah, it was a very important movie. Anyways, do you have another fact?
Anthony: I do! Female bees have 32 chromosomes, but male bees only have 16. Because they're born from unfertilized eggs. They do no work, and they have no stingers, so they're not even good enough to defend the hive. Their sole existence is rooted in the cause of flying to another hive and knocking the queen up. And he only has to do that once before he dies and all his sperm gets stored in the female forever.
Andrea: I heard that they literally kick them out of the hive.
Anthony: Well they die shortly after.
Andrea: But they're just like, you can't. Because they're short on food too so they're like, "We're not gonna feed the guys, right?", so they're like "you're not getting back in here," You're not paying rent, and you're not coming up in my fridge and eating our food.
Anthony: They've served their purpose at that point.
Andrea: It's a feminist movement.
Anthony: Yes, they are a feminist icon.
Andrea: Absolutely. We gotta save them. Okay, so speaking of save the bees. This, is the exciting part. We are super excited to announce now, to all our listeners that Eco Four Twenty is coming out with a new product, and we're gonna do our part to help save the bees. So we worked with Anthony a lot over the past few months, and we've designed and manufactured a 3D printed pen and cart stand. Let's talk about it. Big news! It's been a long time coming. Right? So, I know me and Michael we for several months were struggling, there has to be a better way to keep your pens and your carts up and stored and organized, like, it was a big issue. I think I just pitched the idea to you.
Anthony: Yeah, cause there was a kind've an untapped market, and also there's a lot of need for it. I think a lot of apparatus goes to waste because it's improperly stored and this product really helps solve that issue. It definitely extends the life of products, it's a more elegant way to store your pens and carts. I think it's definitely a much better alternative to having it roll away like a pen.
Andrea: And how was the process, right? Like, I know we talked about- we had ideas for designs, and we were just going back and forth for awhile. I don't know, was there a moment where you were like, "This is it."?
Anthony: Well, we always knew that we wanted to incorporate a bee theme. We figured the shape of the holder itself should be reminiscent of the honeycomb because it's nature's little container, so.
Andrea: So like the strongest-
Anthony: Yeah, and it's also, along with the triangle, the hexagon is nature's strongest shape. So, we have the added benefit of our product being structurally reinforced by nature's strongest shape. So, I think it was definitely cool to realize that we as humans could try to figure out, day and night, what the best and strongest shapes are but nature already had that figured out for us.
I think the same pattern can be seen in carbon fibre. I think it's definitely made our job easier.
Andrea: Oh, absolutely. And, I don't know, my opinion is it just looks really cute. I think it's really useful, I use it to just store my Apple pencil sometimes, it just keeps it upright, and I know it's always there, doesn't roll around. Let's talk about 3D printing like, what- we've never done a 3D printed product before this is completely new. We have done our manufacturing, we make our product and bring it from China and it's cast, it's metal. You know, we just get the product and we do some quality assurance but, you're in Ontario, you're working with us, it's right in our office you get to print, like how is that?
Anthony: Well it's definitely cool to be able to produce locally. I think it does a lot to minimize our footprint, it definitely beats having things brought over and therefore fossil fuels have to be burned for an airplane to bring the shipment over or a cargo ship so, I think, it's the best for everyone to be able to produce locally and sell locally.
Andrea: I mean, absolutely, and I feel like it's really cool because I've never really been part of that experience in the sense that I get to go and see these products being made, and I'm like "holy cow, " this is gonna be on the market. I see you print it, then I package it and this is gonna go to somebody in Alberta or somebody in B.C., or something. It's crazy to think that we are the whole process, vertically integrated from beginning to end. Which is super new for us,
Anthony: It feels like a long time in the making, but-
Andrea: I think it's an amazing idea and I feel like it's definitely something that in the up and up, 3D printing, so what about the material?
Anthony: So the material we use to print is called PLA, it's an acronym for Polylactic Acid. I know that sounds like a harsh chemical but it's actually all naturally derived, it's primarily composed of corn. So, very similarly to bio-diesel, the corn just gets milled and enzymatically fermented and that changes a few of the properties that makes it a viable alternative to fossil fuels and petroleum-based plastics. So, the great thing about PLA is that it starts out its life as corn, or, it's really any high-sugar crop, but the material we're using is made primarily of corn. Which, interestingly, while corn is wind pollinated and doesn't really rely on bees, bees kind've rely on corn because they use the pollen to feed their babies.
Andrea: Oh, interesting.
Anthony: Yes, I think they use it to make, um, there's a type of honey that bees produce that is specifically for juveniles and I think its a composition- part of the composition, sorry.
So it starts out its life helping the environment, through, you know the corn filters the carbon dioxide but, not only that but, we don't have to drill a hole in the earth to suck oil out to be able to make it. And then, the fermentation is all done with natural enzymes and bacteria, which again, don't produce nearly as much waste or CO2 as traditional methods. And PLA takes 65% of the energy consumption as the next best petroleum-based plastic. All in all, it's a lot easier on the earth to produce, it's a lot better for the earth to produce and it has less of a footprint, because PLA can be completely biodegradable.
Andrea: And recyclable too, right? Yeah. It's crazy. That's amazing, man. Like corn, eh? And it's so firm, like even when I hold it in my hand it's like a very nice- it's a beautiful stand, it has 7 slots for your pen or for your carts. It's this beautiful golden silky colour, it's a hexagon, and each little compartment is a smaller hexagon and it has our logo at the bottom and it just looks so high-end, boujee.
Anthony: It has a bit of a metallic sheen to it.
Andrea: It's like silk, gold silk. It looks stunning and you think "Oh my god, that's corn," it started out as corn, that's crazy. So that's awesome I am super excited to get these out into the hands of everybody and this is a totally new project and we're excited to work with a charity on this. So, we're going to be working with Pollinator Partnership, and they are a registered charity that operates in Canada and the U.S. They work with scientists, environmentalists, and everyday people like us, to learn, educate and protect the dwindling number of pollinators. Pollinator Partnership keeps on top of new and emerging pollinator issues, and they manage programs that include pollinator habitat conservation, landscape management and assessments, they help understand and enhance agroecosystems, and they engage in land use and pesticide policy review.
They're a really cool charity, they do a lot of awesome projects in Canada, in North America we're really stoked to be partnering with them on this and basically 10% all proceeds from our 3D printed collection are going to go to Pollinator Partnership. Help save the bees! Yay! Save all the pollinators, but, you know, save the bees!
We're gonna help make an impact, give back. I think it's important, it's cool that our manufacturing is saving and economizing on environmental footprint, but I feel like it's also, as a business, it's our due diligence to give back in anyway we can and allow our customers to give back too by purchasing this and helping us out, so it's exciting I think it's gonna be a really cool project.
So this is going to be starting September 2021, we're going to be launching it on our website, www.ecofourtwenty.ca, it'll be available for purchase and we're really excited to see photos, hear what everybody thinks, it's a brand new product, first 3D printed thing we've ever done. We're gonna get some feedback on it, let us know what you guys think!
So, everybody listening, if you want to help save the bees, this is what you gotta do. These are your options:
Option 1; you can join us, 10% of proceeds from pen and cart stand purchases will go to Pollinator Partnership so if you buy a stand from us, proceeds will go to that.
Option 2; you can go to Pollinator Partnership website and you can donate directly to the charity and then check out other projects that they're working on.
or, option 3; you can get involved from home. You can plant some native wildlife flowers for local pollinators to enjoy, but make sure that they're native seeds, right?
Andrea: You have to be careful that you're not introducing-
Anthony: - Any invasive species, yeah.
Andrea: Avoid herbicides and insecticides as much as possible, and, I thought this was cute, you can make a bee bath. So you just take a shallow dish, put some rocks in it, put some clean water and basically leave it out for them, and they can like, enjoy water and stuff because in puddles and stuff they could drown cause it's too deep.
Anthony: That's a great idea!
Andrea: The butterflies might come and have a little drink in your yard, you can bee watch and stuff. But other than that, that's it, that's our bee podcast episode. It was very exciting, I am BUZZing with excitement.
Anthony: I couldn't BEE happier.
Andrea: Thank you everyone for listening, so ya stay tuned, ecofourtwenty.ca will be launching. Check our Instagram and Twitter and other socials for updates because it's gonna be coming soon. Thank you Anthony, for coming on our podcast and talking about these cool products you've manufactured. How you feel, you excited?
Anthony: It was a pleasure, first of all. And yes, I'm ecstatic I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone has to think about our new product. Hope everyone learned something about bees today.
Andrea: Absolutely, it was a very educational episode. Follow us @ecofourtwenty Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, we will be coming out with more podcast episodes, check out our website, yeah and thank you everyone for listening. Maybe next episode Matthew McConaughey can make it, but I don't know, fingers crossed, but until then, thank you for listening, thank you for helping us make the world a greener place, one podcast episode at a time.