Off Topic

Nothing to do with bees.
Everything to do with cheese.


Now! In Your Very Own Home! Avian Skulls in 3-D!

Nature's forms are so awesome when we take the time to really see them (i.e., study, stare, gaze, gawk). I mean awesome in the old-fashion, thunderstorm-and-lightning-awesome sense, not in the "this taco is awesome!" sense.

Take, for example, the bone structure of birds. Works of art, not to mention aerodynamic genius. Give yourself treat and amble on over to this astonishing National Science Foundation-funded website called Aves 3-D.

Here, you can browse the breastbone of an American Robin or marvel at the mandible of a Wood Thrush. By following the site's directions, you can use your mouse to rotate each bone in three-dimensional perspective as examining it with your own hands. Peruse the site by skeletal element, geographical location, scientific name, and, of course, common name.

Explore our wonderful bird friends from the inside out, and be prepared to swoon.


Psychic Crickets?

When we're not thinking bees, we're helping the Cricket Crawl crowd to maintain their Facebook page. Which means we keep our eyes peeled for cricket- and katydid-related material.

So we were pleasantly surprised to come upon this strange item about cricket moms and baby crickets and dangerous spiders and demented science experiments in the New York Times over the weekend.


Bugging the Supermodel

I do so love the Internets!

My recent travels in OnlineLand has led me to the marvelous, intricate work of Julia Stoess, who creates "greatly enlarged, scientifically correct" insect models that shimmer with beauty.

Take, for example, her stunning rendition of the Common Grasshopper, or her exquisite Common Green Lacewing. Meditate for a moment on a May Bug. Or eavesdrop on the tete-a-tete of this pair of Black Garden Ants.

So many bugs, so little time."Common Grasshopper" by Julia Stoess


There's An App for That

Yessiree bob.


Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a nifty portal in which to while away the cyber-hours. As described on the BHL website,

"The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), the digitization component of the Encyclopedia of Life, is a consortium of 12 major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions organized to digitize, serve, and preserve the legacy literature of biodiversity. The European Commission’s eContentPlus program has recently funded the BHL-Europe project, with 22 institutions, to assemble the European language literature. In addition, negotiations are being pursued with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Atlas of Living Australia and contacts in Japan, India, and Russia to join the BHL consortium. These projects will work together to share content, protocols, services, and digital preservation practices.Prior to digitization, the resources housed within each BHL institution have existed in isolation, available only to those with physical access to the collections. These collections are of exceptional value because the domain of systematic biology depends – more than any other science – upon historic literature. Consequently, the relative isolation of these collections presented an antiquated obstacle to further biodiversity investigation. This problem is particularly acute for the developing countries that are home to the majority of the world’s biodiversity."
As you can see, this is a major worldwide undertaking—a trove of amazing information, images, and ideas. You'll happen upon more data-sparks than you'll know what do with with just sailing through the tag cloud on the main page. That cloud will lead to you a veritable heaven of research on bees, trees, entomology, natural history, pictorial works, and tons of other interesting stuff.

On the left side of the page are BHL updates noting new additions to the collection, books of the week, and other news. You can subscribe to these updates via RSS feed. Have fun, and let us know what you find there.


Beekeeping in Tokyo

As we eagerly await word on whether beekeeping will be legalized here in NYC, the timing seems good to share a couple of items on urban beekeeping—this time from Tokyo.

First, a charmingly illustrated blog post on the Tokyo Green Space blog on the Ginza Honey Bee Project. (See also this Japan Times article about beekeeping in Ginza.)

And don't miss this intriguing NPR piece on Tokyo's "war" on crows, and how beekeepers are getting involved.

Peruse the topic further via the World Wide G-Spot, here.


Wendell Berry's "Questionnaire"

I just found this poem called "Questionnaire" by one of my heroes, Wendell Berry. Berry's poem is a provocation—a series of questions we all need to ask ourselves as we continue down (up?) the tricky path of figuring out how to live with kindness, justice, and meaning in this difficult world.


Food for Thought

A beekeeper friend made me aware of this new enterprise. Looks worthwhile.

While we're on the subject of food, food politics, and the hope of moving in a sane direction—I urge you to see this extraordinary film, which I saw two weeks ago and was blown away by:


Do The Honeybee


Facial Recognition (Sheep Do It, Bees Do It, Even Educated Fleas Do It...)

Our lunch break was made a bit brighter today by our newspaper-scouring pal over at Cook's Log Blog, who made us aware of a New York Times article on the recently "discovered" fact that bees recognize faces.

This reminds me of the last "big discovery" along similar lines: crows' capacity to recognize human faces, as charmingly reported on NPR and in this New York Times item. As always, the critters know way more than we give them credit for.

You can find a whole lot of interesting stuff along these lines by googlin' "animals recognize faces," including the fascinating fact that children recognize faces better than adults.