How can such a small creature gather so much pollen? About six years ago, researchers discovered something new about flowers and bees. Would you believe electric charges????? It turns out as a bee flies through the air, the friction of the bee’s body parts against the air causes the bee to have a slight positive charge. The flowers that attract bees have a slight negative charge. So when a bee lands on the flower, the bee’s body attracts the pollen to it and the pollen sticks! On February 22, 2013, NPR ran the spot “Honey It’s Electric: Bees Sense Charge On Flowers.” Who knew?
Look closely at about 7 o’clock on the flower and you will see a visitor who showed up half way through the clicks of my phone camera.
I was especially glad to see him given that I had just read that this past winter’s honeybee deaths were the highest in the 13 years of research into bee mortality. A parasitic mite seems to be infesting commercial bee colonies in the United States. The problem isn’t just losing the bees themselves. It’s that the agricultural industry relies on commercially raised honeybees to pollinate $15 billion of the U.S. food crops.* I don’t know if this little guy came from a commercial hive, or a local small one. But I was really happy that he showed up!
Or do they? These are both pigeons but the brown one is the oddest colored pigeon I think I have ever seen. I’ve seen a completely brown one around the lake, and one that is an all over combination of brown and white, and those two were odd enough. But a pigeon that has an entirely brown body except for his white tail feathers? I have to say that I’ve never seen that before. While this pigeon doesn’t get shunned when they are all hanging out on the grass or on the dock, he often does seem to be wandering around a little separated from the group. And these two, at least for the moment, seem to be distinctly suspicious of each other. Although I may be being anthropomorphic, and they might just be deciding who gets the food.
Here is another one who has a beautiful, but unusual, completely black head, neck and chest. You can see some of the individual ruffled feathers along the left side of his neck. And his legs and feet show up as a gorgeous orange.
Can pigeons even see color? I honestly didn’t know, and so I looked it up (And how easy that is with computers!) It turns out that pigeons can not only see color, they can see millions of different hues. They also can see ultraviolet, which humans cannot, so they are often used in search and rescue missions at sea. Scientists say that pigeons may be better at color detection that any other living animal. Who knew? And here I was, thinking of them as the rats of the air.
Scaffolding has been around since humans decided to try and build higher than their arms and hands could reach. It took ingenuity to get the idea off the ground. (Sorry, that’s a really bad pun, but I couldn’t resist the temptation.) Archeologists think that scaffolding might have been used to reach the high portions of the rock in the Lascaux Caves in France. That would put the use of scaffolding in the Paleolithic era, which means that prehistoric man constructed some sort of scaffolding over 17,000 years ago. That is amazing to me, as I can’t really conceive of how long ago 17,000 years was. Additional information on the history of scaffolding can be found here.
I’ve always been amazed that the new growth on a plant is a much brighter green than the older leaves.
Fun Science Facts
Did you know:
Some examples of coniferous trees: cypress, firs, redwoods, pines, cedars, spruces, junipers, etc.
The needles on coniferous trees are actually their leaves.
These leaves are adapted so that they survive better in harsher and colder conditions than broad leaves can.
There is a thick, waxy cuticle that waterproofs the leaves. This helps them retain more water than broad leaves, and also helps them survive in harsher weather conditions.
However, there are some species of pine that can absorb water through their needles and then transport that water to the roots of the tree where the water can then be properly distributed. This is especially helpful if these pines grow in a fog belt, as the fog itself can provide water to the tree.
The multitude of needles enable the trees to collect far more sunlight than broad leaves would. The sunlight is necessary for photosynthesis.
Some coniferous trees in North America can grow to be 75 meters tall and can live to be 500 years old.
Did you ever wonder how in the world a 75 meter tall tree can transport water all the way from its roots to the crown of the tree? My wonderful university professor for freshman biology all those decades ago gave us this answer:
Conifers have a vascular system just like our veins. In other words, the tree pumps the water upwards a certain distance, and then some small flaps come down, preventing the water from flowing back downward. When the next pump of water comes up, it pushes the higher water into the next chamber above and so on. This is just how our circulatory system gets our deoxygenated blood back to our heart for re-oxygenation.