Keep asking questions~
What an excellent question!
Then, for those of us who have had covid and disagree with the MSM covid messaging: enjoy this animation "Being Selfish".
Keep asking questions~
A thick plume of smoke is beginning to blanket Puget Sound for the weekend. It is eerily quiet and I have seen no birds. The sun did not come up today, not even the red ball that we could see through the haze yesterday. It is a sickly yellowish and thick looking sky, i.e. something out of a dystopian movie. The levels of pollutants is in entering the very unhealthy-hazardous range. This, on top of everything...and for us it is just smoke, not raging wildfires, in our backyards.
Another week of this before we get a bit of rain to reboot our atmosphere which means no going for my daily walk or tending my garden---because it's too dangerous to be outside breathing the air! until then...quarantine within the quarantine. Sigh.
I am knitting to soothe my soul and enjoying catching up on some good reads, including:
To find out what Annabelle is knitting-click here
In March I visited Hudson, Wisconsin and was amazed to see not just gray squirrels cavorting in the woods behind my mom's new home, but also a white squirrel. What the heck? Time for a bit of Inquiry research! (updated July 2019)
Nobody seemed to know too much about them--except that they were regulars in the neighborhood and they were considered to be (silver-haired) retired squirrels. Since then, my mom has spotted two white squirrels plus a black squirrel in her backyard, and I too have seen both versions on subsequent visits. I also was able to sneak up close enough to see the eye color of the white squirrel on my most recent visit, so...
I present to you my findings (and updates) and advice on:
Legend: the dots represent observations gathered from Citizen Science reports;
if you see a white squirrel, let Rob know by filling in this form.
Like this infographic? Here is a Copy for you ::
Rob Nelson, squirrelologist for Untamed Science, talks about his research and findings=enjoy
2018 is starting off strong for moon-gazers: tomorrow, January 2, we'll have the chance to enjoy the year's first full moon/super moon; then, on January 31st, it's a blue moon, super moon, and a lunar eclipse! According to Space.com, along the U.S. West Coast, the total phase will begin at 4:51 a.m. PST. The farther east you go, the closer the start of the partial phases will coincide with moon-rise.
When is a full moon called "blue"? It turns out it has nothing to do with color, but rather it is thought to come from an old English term meaning "betrayer"; this term is used to describe two full moons that occur in one calendar month, and usually happens on average every 2.7 years. There will be no shortage of full moon/blue moons this winter season, as we'll have another double in March (no full moon in February).
In 2015, we were treated to a Super Moon Lunar Eclipse, and I captured the above image from my backyard. This YouTube re-post from 2015 explains the celestial clockwork behind the magic.
Pseudoscorpions. Book Scorpions. Chelifer Cancroides
...are tiny arachnids, not scorpions at all!... but they have cool pincers and they prey on the larvae of clothes moths, carpet beetles, booklice, ants, and varroa mites. What's not to love?
It all started with a conversation in a beekeeping forum concerning the problem of varroa mites, and wondering if there were natural, non-chemical methods (besides hosting foundationless hives*) that might be employed to lessen the varroa mites' impact on a hive. Our question led us to two beekeeping researchers who are working with restoring a beehive's ecosystem by reintroducing pseudoscorpions into the mix to create a more diverse and healthy hive habitat.
In my first foray into the world of the pseudoscorpion, I found Torben Schiffer and his website beenature-project though this article (written in English, rather than German). In a nutshell: "Bees and pseudoscorpions have cohabited in hives for thousands of years, but toxic chemicals used in beekeeping have nearly eradicated the 'little insect with the tooth of poison.’ Torben’s mission is to restore the natural symbiosis between the two species in order to control the new unwelcome member of the triangle, the varroa mite."
Torben's research partners are teens from the Hamburg school where he teaches biology :^)
Further sleuthing led me to the work of Roland Sachs, who also has an interest in restoring healthy hive ecosystems through natural beekeeping methods. He has been exploring hive construction and alternative methods of keeping honeybees.
Sachs states: "The book scorpion’s potential is enormous. Though it is not the cure for the various problems of honey bees and modern beekeeping it can – in a suitable habitat (geometry & properties of hollow trees) and within the scope of natural beekeeping (no acids/chemistry, low honey extraction, swarming, etc.) – effectively combat the parasites. Not only the Varroa mite is on its menu. It will also suck out bee lices, small hive beetles, and wax moths with pleasure. Having book scorpions within bee hives signals natural beekeeping and an intact hive climate. Integrating it into your bee hives unfortunately cannot be the first step towards successful beekeeping without acids and chemistry. On the contrary its successful settlement can only be the result of a species-appropriate beekeeping, since book scorpions are very sensitive they will quickly leave an unsuitable habitat." Natural Beekeeping with Book Scorpions
*Natural Beekeepers. We, at BeePeeking, do not have a problem with varroa mites :^)
We host foundationless hives, i.e. naturally-drawn small cell comb, which disrupts the varroa life cycle. Though considered "alternative", Natural Beekeeping is a treatment-free philosophy of nurturing healthy bees as well as sustainable beekeeping practices. I would love to introduce pseudoscorpions to my bees and am looking into sourcing options.
Mymaridae. Fairyfly. Fairy wasp. Chalcid wasp.
Lately, I have been researching insects that are so small, you probably haven't seen them before. Just last week, whilst looking at a few of my honeybees with my stereoscope, I discovered what appeared to be a miniature wasp tangled up in the bee-fur. What?
Yes, that is a honeybee, Apis mellifera, looking like a giant compared to the tiny wasp (next to the point of a pin). The first thing I tried to do was to take a photo of the little gal (clubbed antennae, not feathered or threadlike) so I could do an ID. This involved some pretty tricky gymnastics with my headlamp, tripod, "real" camera and close-up filter...but I still could not get close enough! I ended up pointing my iphone camera through the stereoscope to capture the best images, and was then able to begin the process of identification.
I found some matching images that led me to believe that I was in possession of a fairyfly, or Mymaridae. Most definitely a chalcid wasp. Let's have fun with Mymaridae, shall we?
What makes Mymaridae so cool, besides being goofy fliers and practically invisible?
Some species of fairyfly live underwater, others mate with their siblings before they hatch, and in one super-tiny species the males are so small that "they do not have wings or eyes, their mouths are mere holes, and their antennae are simply spherical blobs. The ends of their legs have been modified into suction cups for clutching at females long enough to fertilize them. They are so small, their entire bodies are smaller than a single-celled Paramecium."
As my daughter succinctly stated "Insects are such weirdos!"
Narrated by Cedar Anderson, the inventor of the FLOW hive.
Bonus double-feature for you today :^) also from Flow.
The creator of Nature Rx viral videos speculates that Nature has a marketing problem...
What I love about Justin's approach, and the Nature Rx videos, is that he GETS it; instead of pathologizing our lack of outdoor playtime as a disorder, he prescribes Nature Rx as a cure (though not without side effects :^)
I hope you find this TEDx Talk as intriguing as I did.