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Flowers in the Headlines: How Flowers and the Floral Industry are Impacting the World

Flowers have been popping up in some unlikely places in the news lately. Florists and flowers have made their way into headlines where you would least expect. However, given flowers’ emotional connotations, it makes sense that they’re appearing in some of today’s most emotionally-charged new stories.

1. Ash Cloud Costing  Kenya’s Floral Industry Millions Daily

Nearly 500 tons of flowers sit in cold storage in a Nairobi airport as cargo trucks carrying tons more continue to be turned away at airports across East Africa.

The cancellation of flights across Europe following a massive ash cloud stemming from an Iceland volcano is taking a toll on Kenya’s flower industry. According to the BBC, flowers account for 20 percent of Kenya’s exports, and losses are approaching $2 million daily. The BBC reports 97 percent of flowers harvested in Kenya are sent to the European Union.

In an interview with the BBC, Kenya Flower Chief Executive, Jane Ngige, said the industry must continue to harvest flowers, although most will never arrive in European markets. Many varieties of roses, including tons Tropicana roses and Valentino roses, are rotting during the delays.

The Guardian reports that thousands of flower harvesters, some of whom make only a few dollars a day, have been laid off.

However, despite the losses, industry leaders remain hopeful. A handful of cargo flights from Kenya and southern Europe took flight Monday, raising hopes that the worst is over. “I don’t think that four days is going to bankrupt the Kenyan flower industry,” said Peter Szapary, owner of Wildfire Flowers in Naivasha, told The Guardian. “But if it goes on for two weeks then it will be a problem for us.”

2. Royal Florists Spill Wedding Details.

Are Prince William and Kate Middleton making it official?

As reported in The Gaea Times, The Telegraph quoted royal florist Simon Lycett as he speculated about his plans in the event of a royal wedding. “For his father, we had 30,000 Narcissus daffodils, so if it was the spring months it would be lovely to do the same. Certainly, it would be British flowers; lots and lots would be gorgeous, like roses, delphinium and sweetpeas,” Lycett said.

Although the couple has made no announcement, Lycett’s comments have fueled a rumor mill that has been in overdrive as wedding rumors continue to make their rounds. Lycett told the telegraph, “I think they (the couple) are relatively traditional.”

Will Lycett have the privilege of adorning the royal wedding venue? We shall see!

3. Flowers Used to Honor Victims of Polish Crash New York Neighborhood.

Late President Kaczynski called “the flower of Polish intelligence.”

The world sat in startled disbelief following the tragic deaths of President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others including his wife, military, political and religious leaders when their plane crashed in Russia April 10. While many in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a traditionally Polish neighborhood, sought relief from the shock, they turned to Sky Flowers, a local flower shop across the street from St. Stanislaus Kostka, to memorialize those they lost.

In an interview with the New York Times, Elzbieta Gawel an employee at Sky Flowers, said “Even if ordinary people die in such a crash, we would be devastated. Here, the flower of Polish intelligence died. So now what can people do? They can buy flower to commemorate them.”

Many mourners placed flowers at the church and attached black ribbon to Polish flags in store windows throughout the neighborhood, where the often controversial president was generally well-liked, according to the New York Times.

4. Honey Bees Mysteriously Dying

Honey bees have been dying in large numbers and scientists are searching to find out why. According to ABC News, Beekeepers in Florida and California are struggling to keep bees alive to pollinate crops throughout the United States.

“One in every three bites of food you eat comes from a plant, or depends on a plant, that was pollinated by an insect, most likely a bee,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp of Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Science told ABC News.

Scientists are researching possible causes of the losses, which have been building over the last four years. Cell phone radiation, pesticides and possible environmental causes, such as viruses and fungi, continue to be studied to prevent future losses. “All the bees we’ve looked at, you can’t look at a single cause,” said Jeffrey Pettis, research leader for the Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland.

According to ABC News, nearly 29 percent of the honey bee population in colonies across the United States collapsed, sending production and purchase costs skyward for a number of agricultural-based industries.

In the UK, where The Telegraph reported about a 70 percent decline in the honey bee population between 1970 and 2009,  interest groups are advocating for bee-friendly flowers to be planted on public lands. Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeepers Association told the Telegraph, “Members can campaign locally to help broaden awareness of honey bees in the community, they can lean on local authorities to be more ‘bee friendly’ by allowing bee hives on allotments, providing land for apiaries and ensuring pollen and nectar rich trees are planted in streets and open spaces,” he said.

When speaking to ABC News, David Mendes, president of the American Beekeeping Federation, said, “In many ways we view honeybees as an indicator species, like the proverbial canary in the coal mine,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going on. And we all share the same earth.”

Photos courtesy of NASA Goddard Photo and Video, plasmastik, and david.nikonvscanon

This post is sponsored by Brooklyn, NY, florists.

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