Pen and paper…

Thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences

Data visualization: BBKA stats on bee colony loss rates June 2, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 1:47 pm
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I recently found some stats from the British Beekeeping Association whilst searching for contacts. So I’ve had a play with Many Eyes to see what the stats look like in visual form – I have to say not that exciting but I think the tool would be great for bigger and more complex date sets. I’m sure there’s probably a way of embedding them here but since I can’t find it at the moment, try clicking here…. and here…


All things bees and eco-teams… May 31, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled,News — Kellie Maddox @ 11:36 am
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Let’s not dwell on my absence the last few weeks (all in the name of work I assure you). A few interesting things to report from the last few weeks – some enviro, some not. But for these purposes, let’s talk ‘green’…..

Last week I took a trip to Birmingham Chamber of Commerce  – the intention wasn’t wholly to discuss new ‘green’ developments but something quite exciting did crop up. I won’t reveal too much as a Birmingham Recycled article will be posted soon to tell you more, however the general gist of the Chamber’s latest venture involves a newly-devised environmental team/project which is aimed at encouraging Midlands’ businesses to operate in more enviro-friendly ways e.g. energy saving, reducing waste and improving efficiency.

So you’ll be hearing more about the project in the coming months from the Chamber, but also from moi, as I’m going to be working as an intern on the project to get the site going ( along with the team and Jon Hickman) and filling it will lots of informative (and hopefully exciting) content.

Next……following lots of media interest the last couple of weeks about the plight of our beloved bee population, I thought it was something worth looking into. The Guardian reported that honeybee numbers were still in decline after the harsh winter this year. Referring to the results of a survey published by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), the figures show a wide regional variation, with northern parts of the UK suffering greater losses than the south.

I decided to try to find out the picture in the Midlands so contacted several groups to find out how the bee population has fared in the local area. Although not so great for me, many groups weren’t able to accommodate me because they were so busy with huge numbers of people learning the ropes of beekeeping – a great sign that more people are interested in the conservation of these insects.

South Staffordshire Beekeepers’ Association were kind enough to invite me along to one of their meetings, held at their apiary at Shugborough Hall. I was pleasantly surprised to find a gathering of 20-25 ‘beginner beekeepers’ along with several experienced committee members who look after the apiary and run the course.  

After the informative session, which was all about ‘swarms’, I managed to grab a few minutes with apiary manager Neil Leadbetter and the knowledgable membership secretary Phil Healy. I filmed my brief interview with them, asking about the local picture in terms of bee numbers, why there is a decline, what can be done and how many people are taking up the hobby. I’m hoping – if me and Sian manage to hone our video editing skills – to have the video up on Birmingham Recycled tomorrow so you’ll have to have a look.

Finally, my most time-consuming and least-progressed project is the mapping I’ve been attempting, but let’s not talk about that. It may or may not materialise depending on my inclination to process another hundred or so calculations before the week is out. A miracle needed please…..


Birmingham Airport flight emissions – calculations for #ashtag May 11, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 1:05 pm
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Finally got some figures to work with in my quest to map the emissions saved by flights being grounded at Birmingham Airport during the ash cloud (first-time round).

Again, Justine Hunt at the airport’s been really helpful and I’m going to visit the environment team on Friday…so hopefully more interesting stuff on the way for BRInvestigates…

Anyway…the rough figures so far (this whole project is very much a close ‘approximation’)…

  • The average number of flights in and out of Birmingham = 300 daily (over the six days, this is approx. 1800 flights cancelled)
  • Approximately 203 departures per day (sample from today, Wed 12th May)
  • Disregarding the type of aircraft, short and long-haul flights can be calculated using – which calculates the carbon emissions of each flight based on an assumption of a 65% load factor with 139 seats

As Justine pointed out, the only way to work out an average day’s flight emissions would be to take a sample from the departures board on the website (which would show short, long-haul and domestic flights) and calculate the approximate carbon output for each flight. I’ve started an Excel spreadsheet to organise and calculate this data and will attach it once completed.

Once I’ve finished the laborious task of using the calculator to estimate the total emissions from the day’s sample departures, this can then be multiplied by the six days (in which flights were grounded) to give an approximate idea of the total carbon emissions saved by flights being grounded at Birmingham Airport during the ‘first’ ash cloud incident.

 Then finally……….I will attempt to map the data. Getting there slowly….


A change is as good as a rest… March 22, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 7:30 pm
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I hope it is because I sure feel like taking a break right now (before my brain melts away!) Anyway, news on the ol’ Birmingham Recycled front – exit ‘recycling’ editor….enter new investigative journalist complete with Burberry (well maybe Primark) beige mac, Trilby hat and a bundle of FOI requests under arm. Move over Woodward and Bernstein….Birmingham Recycled Investigates is here.

Drama over – this is the new team: Sian Jones, Ben Harrow, Jade Rance, Adam Hartland and Natalie Eccleshall.

We shall be investigating a number of environmental issues relevant to the Midlands and looking at the local impact of national or international stories by digging and digging a bit more and then may be some more….so you can follow our updates on the new blog and keep up to date by following the team on Twitter.

And hopefully we’ll come up trumps with some interesting stuff – well that’s the plan anyway!


M&S launch sweets that have ‘blooming’ potential March 10, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled,News — Kellie Maddox @ 7:03 pm
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Saw this article and I think its brilliant! M&S have launched a new line of chocolates for Mother’s Day (first bonus) and the packet can be planted to grow into flowers (even better bonus!) What more could mums want – choccies and flowers! Failproof gift if ever there was one!

According to M&S:

The Milk Chocolate Praline Butterflies come in a paper bag that has been impregnated with candytuft flower seeds and will grow into flowers that are said to attract butterflies.

The paper should be planted between March and May and will flower between June and August, M&S said.

Candytuft flowers, also known as Iberis umbellata Rose Cardinal, bloom in a range of colours from white to red.

Environmentally friendly – check. Panic over for what to get mum – check!


A windy proposal February 18, 2010

Filed under: Birmingham Recycled — Kellie Maddox @ 12:06 pm
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Good news…wind turbine manufacturing is set to return to England, according to a Guardian article today. Clipper Windpower will set up a testing facility in Newcastle and, if the blades work, a manufacturing facility will be built on the same site.

So, why should we be bothered? Well, if the plans go ahead, it’s thought that up to 500 manufacturing jobs will be created by 2020 – providing a much-needed boost, as unemployment in the north-east takes another beating. Not only that, the new site may help supply turbines for the Crown Estate, a project of offshore wind farms in the UK.

And I think it’s about time. As far back as I can remember, the debate about how we’ll produce energy when the unrenewables run out has rumbled on. But not much seems to have been done about it. I suppose the government do have more pressing issues to worry about – but its the public who should be getting behind these projects. Okay, so it might not be of great concern in my life-time but what about those in future generations? We should be making plans now to boost renewable sources of energy before the ‘lights go out’.

We should be backing these environmental campaigns whole-heartedly, not objecting to wind turbines being installed in our lovely countryside. We – us human beings accustomed to luxurious lifestyles – demand energy so it’s up to us to make sure that we have supplies long after we depart this earth. I hope Clipper’s plans succeed – let this be the start of a wind-powered solution to ‘green’ energy sources!