"If we are to teach compassion for all life
in this world, and if we are to carry on
a real campaign against cruelty, and against
the destruction of our environment, we
have to begin with reaching children."
~ Betsy Seeton
After army officers violently cleared Tahrir square of protesters on March 9, 2011, at least 18 women were rounded up in military detention. The protesters told Amnesty International that they were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, then forced to submit to ‘virginity checks’ and threatened with prostitution charges.
We're demanding that Egyptian officials investigate the allegations and stop this shocking and degrading treatment of women protestors. Call on Secretary Clinton to use her influence to demand immediate action. Read More »
The Egyptian military may have just hit a disturbing, new low: at least 18 women who were arrested during a peaceful protest in Tahrir Square on March 9 said they were forced to take "virginity tests".
Those women were threatened with charges of prostitution if they "failed" the tests. One woman, who said she was a virgin but whose test supposedly proved otherwise, was beaten and given electric shocks.
Make no doubt about it, this constitutes torture. The purpose of this test is to degrade women because they are women. This treatment is unacceptable.
Demand that Egyptian officials investigate the allegations and stop this shocking and degrading treatment of women protesters. Call on Secretary Clinton to use her influence to demand immediate action.
Twenty-year-old Salwa Hosseini told Amnesty interviewers that she was subjected to strip searches while male soldiers watched and took pictures.
These allegations fuel rising concerns that women, who were at the forefront of the protests that led to President Mubarak's resignation, are being forced into the background in the development of a new Egypt.
The protests that began on January 25th did not occur so that Egypt could replace the shocking and degrading behavior by one regime with that of another.
Call for an immediate investigation into the forced 'virginity testing' and other acts of torture and ill-treatment committed against women in Egypt.
Egyptian women will not be left behind. They stood up then to demand an end to the repression. We stand with them now to demand justice.
Country Specialist, Egypt
Amnesty International USA
Don't give up. Just continuing to hold on will yield/reveal strength and power.
Continuing on after a setback is its own kind of strength. Perseverance is power.
"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage
by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's
suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful."
“One who smiles rather than rages is always the stronger.”
~~ Japanese proverb
"It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability
to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."
These photos are of female honeybees working on their hive.
GO DIRECTLY TO MY BEE PHOTOS
"Toward no crimes have men shown themselves
so cold- bloodedly cruel as in punishing differences of belief."
James Russell Lowell
"It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize
each other, to learn about the other and honor him for what he is."
"If we cannot now end our differences,
at least we can help make the world safe for diversity."
John F. Kennedy
"We need to reach that happy stage of our development
when differences and diversity are not seen as sources
of division and distrust, but of strength and inspiration."
The hive entrance - March 4, 2011 - by Betsy Seeton
The quotes about differences and diversity that I've included throughout today's blog were inspired by something that happened yesterday.
I was at the park where a young girl about 11 or 12 years old was pointing and making a panicking "oooh" sound while stomping her feet and repeatedly yelling, "Kill it! Kill it!" Her grandfather tugged at his dog with the leash it was on and meandered over to see what she wanted killed.
I had to speak up. I had a feeling about what she wanted killed and sure enough when I asked her, she said, "A bee."
I began to explain how important bees are and that if she left the bee alone it was not going to attack or sting her. She said, "I know," in a snide tone claiming that she wasn't afraid, she simply didn't like bees!
My intervention, no doubt viewed as annoying by the young girl, at least saved the life of that particular bee. But I got thinking about how these lovely creatures are so misunderstood. It's exactly that attitude of "Kill it!" that I would love to change to an excited utterance of "Ohhh, wow! Look at that! I see a bee!" Or "I see a beetle!" or whatever it is, but be excited with wonder and curiosity, not hate nor condemnation and not the desire to destroy. A child's curiosity should be sparked, then lit on fire and nurtured so that all life is embraced and better understood.
The quotes herein refer to humans toward other humans, but I think the message applies to all life. The young girl at the park who wanted to kill a bee because she didn't like it is an example of what happens when we lack understanding and knowledge. The bee no doubt frightened her and her reaction was to kill. In my opinion, the world will be a safer and better place to live when more people expand their compassion and understanding to include all forms of life.
Sugar water on my finger - by B. Seeton
Since mid-February, I've been visiting a honeybee hive at a
park near where I live. Scroll to the next blog for all kinds of
bee related info and more pictures.
I spent a half an hour today watching the individual bees
forage beneath the tree where their hive is located and
introduced them to some sugar water I brought for
them. I've given it to them before but had little success
getting them interested in it. Today was different. The
mixture was heavier on sugar and I soaked my hand in
the sticky water so much that it was dripping with the
sweet solution. I enticed bee after bee off their stick or
piece of wood by letting drops roll down by their
tongues. In no time they liked what they tasted and
wanted more. I put a small puddle in the middle of my palm and showed a few bees where to
get more than just a small taste. They stood at the rim of the puddle and used their straw like
tongue to lap it up. Three to four bees at a time walked up and down my fingers looking for the
sweet stuff. It was extraordinary.
Bee hovering before landing - by Betsy Seeton
What was equally extraordinary was feeling
the air conditioning coming from the bees that
were hovering above my hand! I got to feel the
power of their "wing fanning" and now
completely understand how they use their
wings to reduce moisture in the hive and
adjust the temperature.
I've always wanted to learn a second language and even studied French for a short period, but had very little success. I don't have an ear for sound nor a good memory. Today I came away from the beehive feeling like I finally understand a foreign language -- honeybee. Sounds a bit silly, yet the mutual trust that I've experienced with these bees feels like the communication is two-way. It's pretty cool. READ HOW A BEE BECAME MY NEPALI INTERPRETER!
Today is March 14, 2011 and this is the first day I've seen this bright orange pollen (below) coming into the hive. Some new flower must be blooming.
This worker bee was exhausted! It takes a lot of extra energy for bees loaded down with pollen and nectar to fly back to the hive. During the height of the summer season, worker bees only live 5 to 6 weeks due to such strenuous work. In the fall, when the bees huddle together in the hive to stay warm and feed off the food reserves stored up, they last several months.
Click here or on the image below to go to over a hundred photos of bees in their natural habitat. My book, BEE INSPIRED, will be out in November. It's a photo story of the healing power of bees.
What you see here in most of these photos are worker bees. They are females that are not sexually developed. Females number in the tens of thousands per hive whereas there are only several hundred males per hive known as drones. They don't gather pollen or help out in the hive. Drones do very little except mate with the queen a single time, after which they promptly die. Their sexual organ contains barbs much the same way the female stinger does and after the drone disengages the queen his organs are ripped from his body resulting in death.
DRONES GET THE HEAVE-HO
In the fall, drones are expelled from the hive because they offer no contribution and would only make it
harder for the others to survive because they're in essence dead weight during the cold, winter months.
March 11, 2011 - by Betsy Seeton
This photo might be a shot of a drone in flight. From what I read, and using the chart directly below, drones lack the orange tones on the abdomen and instead are predominantly black. There's one more photo toward the bottom of this page that I also suspect is a drone.
Pollen coming in March 11, 2011 - by Betsy Seeton
I've been watching the worker bees come and go from the hive and many bring loads of pollen back with them. I don't know where they get all the pollen in the middle of winter. There are no flowers around that I can see.
I've also observed them flapping their wings and wondered why. I discovered it's to keep the hive clean by circulating the air and more importantly to regulate the hive's temperature. Fanning is also used to evaporate water which aids in turning nectar into honey.
From what I've seen over the past three weeks, this hive is very healthy. The worker bees are steadily bringing lots of pollen. I'll watch them land at the entrance, their hind legs full of pollen, and then they quickly waddle their way on in and down into the hive out of sight. Notice the photo below where the pollen is bright orange instead of cream colored. This means a new flower is blooming.
Taken March 14, 2011 - by B.Seeton
"Subtle flavor and color differences in honey depend on floral varieties and local weather. In the U.S., there are over 300 sources of honey, including popular varieties like clover, alfalfa, buckwheat, and orange blossom, and regional specialties like fireweed, tupelo, and macadamia nut honey." Source: http://ask.yahoo.com/20021203.html
How well I relate to this quote ....
A lover of nature once said, "Happy he who, resting in the grass in the evening close to an apiary, in the company of his dog, heard the song of the bees blending itself with the chirping of the crickets, with the sound of the wind in the trees, the twinkling of the stars and the slow march of the clouds!" Source: Beekeeping For All by Abee Warre [FOR IMAGES OF THE BEES IN APRIL CLICK HERE!]
I think this is the queen. Taken April 5th - by Betsy Seeton.
"A two-day-old larva is selected by the workers to be reared as the queen. She will emerge from her cell 11 days later to mate in flight with approximately 18 drone (male) bees. During this mating, she receives several million sperm cells, which last her entire life span of nearly two years or longer. The queen starts to lay eggs about 10 days after mating. A productive queen can lay 3,000 eggs in a single day." source: http://www.beeman.ca/id18.html
"The queen's job is simple—laying the eggs that will spawn the hive's next generation of bees. There is usually only a single queen in a hive. If the queen dies, workers will create a new queen by feeding one of the worker females a special diet of a food called "royal jelly." This elixir enables the worker to develop into a fertile queen. Queens also regulate the hive's activities by producing chemicals that guide the behavior of the other bees.
Male bees are called drones—the third class of honeybee. Several hundred drones live in each hive during the spring and summer, but they are expelled for the winter months when the hive goes into a lean survival mode.
Bees live on stored honey and pollen all winter, and cluster into a ball to conserve warmth. Larvae are fed from the stores during this season and, by spring, the hive is swarming with a new generation of bees." Source: National Geographic
THE IMPORTANCE OF POLLINATION
Insects such as bees, moths and hoverflies pollinate around a third of the agricultural crops grown around the world. Pollinators are also crucial for the quality of fruits and vegetables. Perfectly shaped strawberries, for example, are created only if every single ovary has been pollinated by an insect. And the number of seeds in a pumpkin depends on the number of species of insects that have pollinated the plants. "If you have 10 pollinators, you'll get more seeds in the pumpkin than you would have gotten if you have just one pollinator," said Giles Budge of the Food and Environment Research Agency. "It is important to have that diversity in a pollinating population." Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk by Alok Jha
GUARD BEES (aka "the bouncers")
At the entrance to the hive, I often see the "guard" bees. These are the female bees that are 18 days old. How scientists have determined this with such precision is amazing, but no more so than the fact that bees adhere to such strict schedules from one generation to the next. I wonder if it ever varies? At any rate, their sting is fully developed at this stage. The guard's job is to sniff out intruders and do whatever it takes to keep out bees who don't belong to the colony. These guard bees can literally smell if a bee is not a local resident and they will fight to the death to do their 'bouncer' job. When guard bees are 21 days old they begin to fly and leave the hive with different duties for the colony.
Lone 'guard' bee at the entrance to the hive - by Betsy Seeton
I shot this photo on March 5th when the temperature dropped into the low 40's. The hive was almost completely quiet with only an occasional bee flying in and out, and a very slow moving "guard" bee every once in awhile crawling up from below the entrance to see what was going on and then crawling back down into the hive leaving the entrance unguarded. This is when I can get inches from the hive and really examine the hexagons and work.
This is at the entrance of the hive and my guess is that this could be a skirmish between a "guard" bee and a hive crasher! But I'm only guessing ....
STRAIGHT FROM http://www.pa.msu.edu/sciencet/ask_st/073097.html :
"Honeybees use nectar to make honey. Nectar is almost 80% water with some complex sugars. In fact, if you have ever pulled a honeysuckle blossom out of its stem, nectar is the clear liquid that drops from the end of the blossom. In North America, bees get nectar from flowers like clovers, dandelions, berry bushes and fruit tree blossoms. They use their long, tube-like tongues like straws to suck the nectar out of the flowers and they store it in their "honey stomachs". Bees actually have two stomachs, their honey stomach which they use like a nectar backpack and their regular stomach. The honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar and when full, it weighs almost as much as the bee does. Honeybees must visit between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to fill their honey stomachs. The honeybees return to the hive and pass the nectar onto other worker bees."
Transferring nectar from a worker bee to a house bee - by Betsy Seeton
This is a shot inside the tree on the hive where you can spot a red tongue going between two bees. What you're seeing is nectar being sucked from a worker bee into the mouth of the house bee. These house bees "chew" the nectar for about half an hour. During this time, enzymes are breaking the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars so that it is both more digestible for the bees and less likely to be attacked by bacteria while it is stored within the hive.
Inside the hive - by Betsy Seeton
"The bees then spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water evaporates from it, making it a thicker syrup. The bees make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax. The honey is stored until it is eaten. In one year, a colony of bees eats between 120 and 200 pounds of honey." Source:
March 10, 2011 - by Betsy Seeton
In this photo you can sort of see both sets of wings on the bee in flight. The larger pair of wings are the forewings and the smaller set are the hindwings.
March 10, 2011 - by Betsy Seeton
Read: WHERE HAVE ALL THE BEES GONE? In China the problem is so bad that humans are taking over the job of bees and hand pollinating!
Einstein supposedly said if bees were to disappear from the surface of the earth humanity would have no more than four years to live – whereas if we were to disappear, the rest of the planet would carry on just fine. Others argue that Einstein never said this, but whether he said it or not, it got people's attention. And the fact is that the loss of bees will have drastic consequences for the human race. Another fact is that bee populations are diminishing at alarmingly high rates. Bee decline could be down due to chemical cocktail interfering with their brains. Read Article
by Betsy Seeton
Click for another very good article about our vanishing bee population .... below is an excerpt:
From the 2 May 2010 Observer (UK): "The number of managed honeybee colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter, according to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26 bn [over $42 bn] to the global economy…US scientists at the ARS have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem. (Source: http://www.mvtimes.com/marthas-vineyard/article.php?id=4587)
You can also read about the decline in the bee population in the UK. An estimated 17% of bees were lost in 2010.
An interesting short read is DANCING BEES SPEAK IN CODE. Here's an excerpt:
These bee swarm photos were taken on September 1, 2007, which is the first day of spring in Australia. They were taken in the suburb of Canberra, Australia. The wonderful photographer, Alan (aka Al) Hanbridge, a friend of mine I met on RedBubble's art site, wrote that when the bees left the branch it shot straight back up to where it belonged!
Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season.
Secondary afterswarms may happen but are rare. Afterswarms are usually smaller and are accompanied by one or more virgin queens. Sometimes abeehive will swarm in succession until it is almost totally depleted of workers. Source: wikipedia
by Marion Ellis, Extension Apiculture Specialist
1. What is a honey bee swarm?
Honey bee swarms are a favorite topic of people who make horror movies. Actually, they are one of the most beautiful and interesting phenomena in nature. A swarm starting to issue is a thrilling sight. A swarm may contain from 1,500 to 30,000 bees including, workers, drones, and a queen. Swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honey bee colony. It provides a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself.
2. What makes a honey bee colony swarm?
Overcrowding and congestion in the nest are factors which predispose colonies to swarm. The presence of an old queen and a mild winter also contribute to the development of the swarming impulse. Swarming can be controlled by a skilled beekeeper; however, not all colonies live in hives and have a human caretaker.
3. When do honey bees swarm?
The tendency to swarm is usually greatest when bees increase their population rapidly in late spring and early summer. In Nebraska, this would be in May and June. READ 4 THROUGH 9 HERE
By Betsy Seeton
"If we are to teach compassion for all life in this world, and if we are to carry on a real campaign against cruelty, and against the destruction of our
environment, we have to begin with reaching children."
-- Betsy Seeton
One of the best places to nurture the kind of change our world needs, is involving, teaching, and inspiring children. FOR ALL THE ANIMALS offers paid positions for young children ages 8 to 18 who can research, investigate and write about animals and nature. We also want young artists, filmmakers and photographers to apply. Children 7 years old and younger can be our interns.
I imagine a better world when what people value has more to do with what they love doing than about what money can buy. Going after your passions and leading a life inspired by them is central to what drives my own life and is something I encourage others to experience.
"The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious,
awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller ~
"By respect for life we become religious in a way that is elementary, profound and alive.
Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, and
accept as something precious what comes back to you from them."
~ Albert Schweitzer
"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."