Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bee sting remedy

This is not a scientific study but certainly took some pain and persistance by the author to get to the conclusion.  It seems he did his homework and put some thought into the research.  Toothpaste...who would have guessed?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Swarming Bees

This was the first view of the swarm out the back window. Estimated to be about 40,000 bees.

Toward the end of the swarming bees

Beginning to settle onto the tree.

At one point, after about half of them had settled on the tree in a cascade of bees, I had to walk out into them to close up an open access into the attic. Definitely did not want those bees inside the house. Walking into a swarm of bees is not highly recommended because it is usually difficult to be certain how long they have been swarming. A dry swarm, that is one that has been flying for more than a day and is getting hungry, can be a stinging swarm. Not something I want to get involved with on any given day. This one, however, had just taken off from next door and each bee was full of honey and no longer had a hive to protect so it was very docile. That's why I felt relatively good about my safety when walking outside into a back yard full of flying bees. Took me a while to get out the back door even knowing that, however. I had to go over in my head a few times why it was OK to open that door and walk into a cloud of thousands of bees in flight. The avoidance of the potential for receiving multiple stings can be a very visceral thing.

Here is the bee cascade in the apple tree. The queen is near the top.

I calculated there were about 40,000 bees flying above the patio before they had settled onto the tree. The swarm was a 15 foot cube of bees about 4 inches apart from each other. Amazing stuff.

Another kind of bee rarely seen in person

This bee variety is sometimes called a solitary, leaf cutter, blue orchard, or a self employed bee.  It is really hard to get one of these to sting and I have never known it to happen.  They are startlingly iridescent in coloration from an emerald to a stunning, electric blue.  They live in holes in dead wood and seal them off with bits of leaf and mud.  They are much smaller than honey bees.

The top photo is the "hive" constructed to attract them to the yard.  The bees are rarely seen but the cut leaf margins on our climbing rose appear around the time they begin laying eggs in the five inch deep holes I drilled into the aged wood.  That seems to be the preferred plant for making beds for their larvae.  

The next photo is a close up of a few completely filled holes that are sealed off with mud.  There is a bowl full of mud and water kept at the base of the posts holding up the nest logs until midsummer.  There are about five larvae per hole and they will exit next spring about the time the apple blossoms happen.  Last year we had five holes filled.  This year we have eleven.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Your kids don’t want to feel suckered any more than you do.

OK.  This is an aside.  Maybe.  But tangentially, it has everything to do with gardens, bees, composting, thoughtful living, etc and...

This is the most important item posted up to now.  

Breaking the cycle of consumerism in the next generation.  This is how it all changes into something better and more rational.  It is about stopping the desires of big business.  It is about having a life unhindered by unfathomable desires that get in the way of living your life.    A quick and dirty synopsis of this idea by another person is available here:  

I will grant that NOT having a tv in the house can be a good thing but, for me, is impractical and wrong for three main reasons.  The first reason being that you create forbidden fruit which can make it even more desirable.  Another is that avoidance of tv is not always possible in our society which creates a vulnerability in those not exposed and innoculated to it.  Finally, TV can be a very useful tool for children and adults.   

Give a child the ability to analyze advertising.  Without that ability they fall prey to every McDonald's, Lowe's, General Motors, BMW, Realtor, etc. advertisement that  encourages your child to make the decisions that DO NOT benefit your child.  What better place to learn that critical ability than at home?  What better flagrant to subtle advertising is available than that which is on tv?  

We, as a family, were not quite so articulate or in depth in our analysis of ads as the article cited above says to be.  At first, we just had fun saying, "Advertisement, advertisement.  Don't look, don't look."  Then, later on, as the daughter recognized which were the ads we talked more about what they were saying and discussed what they were selling and why and what they wanted us to do and why and how they wanted us to act and why and how that was so wrong and hopelessly stupid of us to do unless we were robots that had nothing to say about our own lives, etc.  The essence of it all was recognizing advertisers and how they were trying to modify our behavior to their benefit and not to ours.  It was a very fun and easy thing to do if we were together in front of the tv.  

A child alone does not have a chance against them.  

Leave your child alone in front of the tv and I can guarantee that's how you will grow mall rats.  I have some rat traps you could use but really it's too late by then.  You have to live with them and watch them grow.  Your inattention and subsequent loss is the gain of big business.  

When we were living with our daughter (she is in college now) we told her that she could watch  non-commercial tv. She could play with anything she wanted or she could read.  The kitchen was a favorite playground.  The woodwork still shows the water stains by the sink. (Have to let that sort of stuff go as it happens and appreciate it as signifying healthy growth.)  When we were in the room she could watch any tv we were watching.  Other than that it was public tv only.  No ads.  There was a garden to play in when tv got boring.  Later on, Bill Nye the Science Guy was a big favorite.  Carmen San Diego was good for the geography lessons but Bill Nye lead to some very good studies for her.  After that, the cooking channel started up and she was off to the races with that.  In this way, tv showed and taught her skills as well as piqued her curiousity instead of dulling it.  You never know where these early interests will take your children.  For a few years she wanted to grow a garden for the restaurant she would own when she grew up.  She got over that pretty quickly but there are far worse aspirations for a child.  Growing up to be a fashion model comes to mind immediately.  She turned out to be a pretty good cook, too.

One more thing.  

One night, when the daughter was just about the age of three, I was watching the news and she walked up to the screen and said, "When we don't like someone we shoot them."  That was the last time I watched the news in front of the daughter until she was in junior high and had to watch it for a class assignment.  You cannot imagine what that tv is doing to your child without the filter of you discussing it with them in the moment.