Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bee Day

These bees are pollinating my sunflowers. Note the fully laden pollen baskets, like yellow water-wings. As they gather protein-rich pollen all over their hairy, staticy bodies, they scrape it off and pack it (sometimes moistened with a bit of honey) around their rear legs to take back to the nest or hive (depending on the type of bee). Click on pic for bigger view.

We put honey supers on top of both East Village hives today. The supers are shallower than the brood boxes because honey is heavy. On Beeman J’s recommendation, we only put the queen excluder on one of the hives; he says that the queens don’t like to cross honey to lay eggs so the excluders aren’t really necessary. The excluder is a mesh that the queen can’t fit through; worker bees can, so they will fill the comb they build above with honey alone. This is done so that the super frames can be easily taken for honey extraction without any egg, larva, or capped brood in the way. There are ten frames per super, and on one of them we took a frame out. J’s reccy again: he gets more honey that way, sometimes. An experimentalist, J.

Beelines. Hmmm. I finished Chatwin’s The Songlines and I was sorry to put it down. A born wanderer himself, a crosser of boarders geographical, sexual, and religious; essentially footloosely homeless and happy about it, the man himself was quite the character. Here, in trying to piece together an understanding of native Australian dreamtime, he incorporates many notes he made, over years of wandering, about nomadism and its connection to human evolution. The songlines have parallels with ley lines, singing stones, and feng-shui, as well as the glades and copses of old Greece; indeed, probably every animist society, because before the pantheons and monotheism, everything was holy, had a name, and was a part of the fabric of human lives.

We populated the planet by walking (excepting some flung ocean islands), giving all “a local habitation and a name.”

UPDATE: Elizabeth Kolbert's New Yorker article on bees is a must read for anybody who eats, oh, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, meats....

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