October 08, 2010

Waiting for Mr. Good Bee

No honey there.

I used to ponder such deep questions as how long it would take a typical American to notice it if birds disappeared. This year I've really started to notice the disappearance of honey bees. I saw exactly zero at Goat Rope Farm this summer.

When I was a little kid I hated honey bees for their tendency to sting me when I accidentally stepped on them barefoot. It didn't take too long to outgrow that childhood prejudice once I learned about how useful, interesting and generally easy to get along with they were.

Honey bees have been called "angels of agriculture" for their role in pollination. Although they have seemed like a natural part of the landscape for centuries, they are not native to North America but were brought here by European settlers in the 17th century. In their absence in the wake of the bee colony collapse of the last few years, I've noticed what seem to be a lot more bumble bees.

This could be a coincidence, but I also noticed a lot more bald faced hornet's nests this year. From what I understand, they mostly eat other insects but I have read that they do some minor pollination in late summer. Given the choice, I think I'd prefer honey bees. I will watch anxiously for their return the same way I do for the return of minnows in our creek after a dry spell.

GETTING HICKY WITH IT. A television ad for Republican Senate candidate John Raese stirred up quite a bit of controversy yesterday after a casting call was released which said that actors should go for the "hicky" look.

A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN. Several serious safety violations were found at a Massey mine in Boone County.

GO UNION. A new study suggests that labor unions improve the quality of life for members and non members.

CAN I HAVE ONE? According to the NY Times,

The earliest known relatives of dinosaurs were the size of a house cat, walked on four legs and left footprints in the quarries in Poland.

They sound really cute.

SINCE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT, here's an item about some desert lizards with mammal-like social behavior.


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