Friday, May 29, 2009

ELECTION POSTERS: guerilla gardening

Just saw this guy come up with a guerrilla gardening use for election posters.
The description is here. You sir are a genius.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Jar of Honey by Jacob Polley

Has anyone else seen the Phil Jupitus poem on bbc2? He is in a cafe and hands over the jar, then says the poem. I cannot find the video anywhere. The poem is

A Jar of Honey by Jacob Polley

You hold it like a lit bulb,
a pound of light,
and swivel the stunned glow
around the fat glass sides:
it's the sun, all flesh and no bones
but for the floating knuckle
of honeycomb
attesting to the nature of the struggle.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bee Orchid

The bee orchid(Ophrys apifera) lives in an amazing symbiotic relationship with bees. Flowering in June/July in Karst regions they have evolved to look like bees in order to attract the pollinators. Attract in the sexual sense Dawkins in "blind watchmaker" describes how male bees attempt to mate with this flower.

Another Flower that seems peculilarly adapted to bees is the invasive Himalayan balsam.

I have seen them in karst regions of Clare (the photo is of one near Pollballygoonaun cave) in October. It has an unusual pink/mauve color. I would love to see a photo taken in ultraviolet of them. I believe they will show up luminous in bees vision.

The shape of the flower is evolved to promote pollen being rubbed onto the bees. The petals form a long thin tube that the bees enter to try access the nectar. Half way down this tube the anthers are positioned to rub off the bee. The symbiosis involved between the bee and this flower is fascinating. It has especially long petals that form a tunnel. As the bee goes down this tunnel to access the flowers nectar the pollen is rubbed onto it. This design means that more of the pollen is attached to and collected from the bees then it would if the bees position was not so carefully controlled.

There is a video of the process here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bóthar Bees

The Fingal beekeepers meet up on the first Thursday of the month for talks. A load of people meet up, if you want to try beekeeping you should call in. Check their website for details.

Information about seasonal activities is handed out.

This month the talk was from Aisling Donoghue of the charity Bóthar. This is an Irish charity that sends livestock to the developing world. They also train beekeepers in the developing world. The aim being to provide people with a source of income. There are similar charities in the UK (bees for development) and America (hives save lives).

The campaign run to donate bees is here. The bees are native species as these are evolved for the conditions in the area.

The bees also have the advantage that they pollinate the crops in the area

There was great photos of the training of the people who receive the beehives. The hives shown in these photos were of the traditional topbar hives but were were told they now use more modern Langstroth hives. I'd be interested to hear from an African beekeeper about how these are suited to the local climate. And whether the extraction tools needed for them are easily available.