Thursday, August 22, 2013

Caste System in The Honey Bee Colony: Drone, The Male


The Male Of The Honey Bee Colony: The Drone

     It comes as no surprise to beekeepers that most people, get a kick out of the fact that the hive is mainly female. This comes from the fact that 10 to 20 percent of the hive is male. The drone is easily spotted by their large eyes, medium size body and long legs.

     A drone is the result of an unfertilized egg. Normally, a Queen bee will deposit the unfertilized egg in a drone cell. A drone cell, compared to a worker cell, is slightly larger. Unlike the worker bee, the drone will take 24 days from egg to Adult.
     When the egg is laid it will take three days for the larva to hatch. On the 11th day the larva is mature enough to be(e) capped. This capped cell is easily noticed since the cell is dome shaped.
This is because the drone is slightly larger than the worker bee so it will need more space to develop in. On the 24th day the adult drone will emerge. Soon after the drone will begin his journey out of the hive. At the peak of summer there can be(e) about 200 drones on average.
     Drones do most of their flying in the afternoon. Their search in the afternoon is mainly to find a unfertilized queen bee to mate with. Interestingly enough, the drone will mate with the queen bee in midair and once he mates with the chosen queen he dies. But he has completed the task that nature has given him.

     Other than mating, Drones do not have any other specific task. They do not defend the hive since they do not have a stinger. For this reason they are easily picked up by a beekeeper with their bare hand! Additionally, the drone has a tiny proboscis, "tongue", and is not able to feed themselves. Thus, the worker bees must feed them.

     Later in the fall, the queen will lay fewer drones since mating season is over. As winter approaches, the worker bees will begin to drive the drones out of the hive. This phenomenon is the result of the hive no longer needing the drones for the winter and to conserve as much resources as possible.

     Thus the life of a Drone is over. Nevertheless, their numbers will reappear as mating season begins.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Planting Seeds for our Future

This year was one of many 'firsts' for CORE/El Centro's Garden and Nutrition program, including our first annual Kids Camp, held August 5-9th.  The 40-hour camp covered a number of topics through a variety of activities - from videos and coloring pages, to hands on soap making and composting.  Our 18 participants learned a lot, made new friendships and all left eager to return next year.

I'm including just a sampling of photos from the camp - more to come via video.  Enjoy!

Getting their hands dirty with Kompost Kids

Campers work to cut out pictures for their MyPlate project.

Finding pictures of the 5 food groups: Dairy, fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein.

All Finished! 

Painting the inside of their pizza box with black paint to absorb the sun's heat

Campers fill their solar oven pizza boxes with paper for insulation.

Solar oven pizza melting in the sun

A group shot after a presentation by Charlie, from Beepods. 

Decorating seed pots in preparation for planting

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Skin of the Earth

This Summer, I visited a friend in Minneapolis and made sure to make a stop at the University of Minnesota Bell Museum of Natural Science to check out Dig It! Secrets of Soil. The exhibit, organized by the Smithsonian Institute and supported as a traveling exhibition, offers a wealth of information and some hands-on activities examining this most precious of resource! 

The three main components of soil: sand, silt and clay combine to form Loam - the farmer's dream! 

This display shows the way that water flows through soil, depending on the size of particles.  Sand, being the largest particle, lets water run freely through while clay, the smallest particle, holds water.  When gardening we ideally have a healthy mix of all particles - allowing for some water retention, but also needing air and space for roots to grow into the soil and water to release as to prevent 'choking' the roots.

A very cool look below the surface - what diversity exists just in our country! 

One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was this area, showing different soil samples from around the U.S. It's a great reminder of how diverse our Earth is, and what incredible history She has!

Soil, taken from Antigo, to show Wisconsin's beautiful silt loam - prime soil for agrictulture

Wisconsin's State Soil, officially named in 1983, is Antigo Silt Loam, shown above.  Though Wisconsin has over 500 soil types, the Antigo Silt Loam is what has made our state a productive agricultural hub of the midwest. Over 10,000 years ago glacial meltwaters deposited sand and gravel in our area which now forms the lower subsoil and substratum (2-3 feet under ground).  Strong winds and further melting of glaciers then brought in the silt and loamy outwash which covered the lower sand/gravel deposits. These two layers ensure good soil drainage, while the hardwood forests of northern Wisconsin helped to develop the beautiful topsoil which has fed thousands of farming families and their customers.

Caption reads: What is 45% minerals, 5% organic matter, 25% water, and 25% air?  A midwestern farmer's dream - the ideal loamy soil.