I think everyone has been scared half to death by a Bumblebee. It's the middle of summer and you are out in the yard and out of nowhere, you get buzzed by a honey bee on steroids-a black widow with wings. How does something so big and so loud sneak up on anything? They sound like a crop duster is landing in the yard. I used to think you would die a horrible, ghastly death if stung by one. And we all know-they aren't supposed to be able to fly, but they do. And quite fast, I might add. A foraging bumblebee can hit speeds up to 15 miles per hour. If they hit you in the forehead at that speed, they wouldn't have to sting you, they would knock your lights out. The reason they buzz you so closely is they are trying to smell you to see if you are a flower. Teach me to wear my sweet night blooming jasmine cologne before I go out gardening. Actually, La Bombus isn't aggressive at all. They will only attack if they feel their life or hive is threatened.
Another thing, most drones born in the summer have no stingers at all. So they would have to hit you in the forehead at full throttle to hurt you. Back to the flying thing. That they can't fly is a myth born of a study done eons ago by some aerodylamo engineer applying fixed wing dynamics to a helicopter model. Sheeesh! Engineers. The fact of the matter is that Bumblebees have four wings that can be disengaged in order to flap at 200 beats per second to warm up their body to flight temperature. It's somewhat like revving your car engine in neutral to warm it up. The only time Bumblebees can't fly is when they are too cold. How ironic-not only can they fly, but their wings warm them up so they can fly when it is too cold for other bees to fly. Hence, they get out earlier to pollinate and forage for nectar. They are ambitious pollinators but only gather enough nectar to feed the hive. Unlike honey bees, they cannot survive on their honey combs, as they only store a few days worth at any given time. So they are not real big on hibernating over winter. They are just your average here today- gone tomorrow, great big furry, loud, hard working, misunderstood creatures that carry a heavy load in nature's work force.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
It turns out that there is really no such thing as a lazy bee. My perception was just skewered by ignorance. What I thought were flighty, gad-about beeboppers were actually doing an entirely different job than the girls I perceived to be doing all the heavy lifting. While all bees gather nectar, some seek out nectar only and others gather both nectar and pollen. The dual purpose gatherers use only enough nectar to make the pollen sticky. They knead the sticky pollen into tiny clumps with their front legs and place them into what are know as 'pollen baskets' located on their rear legs. When these baskets get full the bees navigate back to the hive and deposit the pollen into pollen combs. Bees use the pollen as a source of protein. Humans harvest the pollen for a vast array of nutritional supplements. The study of bee pollen is known as Palynology. The more I learn about these amazing little creatures, the more I realize how integral they are to the survival of our entire world.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
After a couple of years of bee stalking, I noticed a characteristic I thought was peculiar only in humans. A work ethic, or lack of, is apparently evident in nature's other creatures as well. While some bees flit from flower to flower, looking for all the world to be busy at work, they never seem to gather much pollen. Meanwhile, others spend more time on individual tasks, seemingly oblivious to what or who is around them while they pack on the honey dust. Some get so loaded up that you have to wonder how they get airborne to fly back to the hive, which might be a considerable distance from the work zone. It made me wonder if some bees have different jobs, such as scout or watchmen or some kind of markers. After checking it out, I am still left wondering if there isn't such a thing as simply lazy bees. Worker bees are always female and do all the gathering, pollinating and loading of nectar into the hive. Drones or male bees, have no other purpose than to mate with the queen in order to propagate the colony. Now if that doesn't sound like a cake job, I don't know what does. Guard bees are just that. They guard the hive against intruders. Every bee must come to the aid of the hive if called but the guards are the primary line of defense. Sniffer bees are like radar or sonar, in that they can smell out predators or bees from another colony. But out in the field, the difference in work habits is still a mystery to me. I'll keep watching and reading and maybe someday it will all become clear to me. In the meantime, I've got to go tape some grass to my head and get some pics.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
It's been a while since I've posted anything but I'm going to try and be a little more regular about it. I'm starting out with a few pics of the granddudes while they are here on vacation. It's been really great having them for a couple of weeks, but as always, it's just not enough time. So we just make the most of it. We have been focusing on sharpening our skills at pool, golf and video games, while keeping our attitudes right by watching as many movies as time allows and making every effort to eat all the ice cream and cookies in Carson City. The video is of Waterfall Trailhead, a little creek we hiked to not far outside of town.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Let's see now, since The One's election four months ago, the stock market has lost nearly half it's value, the national debt has nearly quadrupled, over 9,000 earmarks have passed into law, no fewer than four tax evaders have been confirmed to cabinet positions, the new Secretary of State has kicked Israel to the curb, the Russians are knocking on Eastern Europe's door again, countless newspapers have gone up for sale, gone bankrupt or closed their doors altogether and Obama has already purchased his first bottle of Just for Men hair color. And I was afraid the only change we were going to see with this administration was the change in color of the lipstick on the pig. Silly me.At this rate of change, we had better learn to like vodka and caviar. Or fish heads and rice. Or humus and felafel's.Four years of changes like higher taxes, more failed corporate bailouts, embarrassing foreign affairs blunders, sold out allies and a tanking market could make the United Stated resemble the West Bank. After eight years of socializing health care, the banking industry, the real estate market and energy, the dollar will be worth about two and a half Dinars. But we'll feel good about ourselves because we have destroyed the evil capitalist empire. The Fairness Doctrine will be back in place, Rush Limbaugh will be off the air and we will have made the world a safer place for the Russians and Chinese. God help us all!
Friday, February 13, 2009
January is supposed to be one of the wettest months of the year in this part of Nevada but the precipitation totals last month were dismal, to say the least. So you can emote with the sheer giddiness of the weather people when a series of "storms" lined up out in the northern Pacific. I couldn't help but laugh though, when I got up the other morning and saw all our little buddies out back, undaunted by the not so blizzard like conditions. It reminded me of the scene in Forrest Gump where Gary Sinise is tied to the mast of the shrimp boat during a hurricane. There was Cheeks, doing his impersonation of Lt. Dan, "You call this a storm?" And not to be left out, the woodpecker chimed in, "Blow, you sonofabitch, blow!" Pretty soon, everyone was getting in on the act, even Ginger. Big storm-doo! I have posted my favorite scene from the movie and a song from a USO show with Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. Enjoy.