The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Monday, September 10, 2012

Only The Bees Know...

If you haven't heard that our honeybees have been having a hard time of it lately, you aren't paying attention to natural resource issues in the news. But if you've got kids, you might have seen The Bee Movie, starring Jerry Seinfeld...

...and not realized that there really is an issue underneath the humor of the movie. Here in North America it's been called Colony Collapse Disorder, and scientists around the world have been trying to figure out what's wiping out bee colonies all over the planet. So far, everything from global warming to bee mites and pesticides have been blamed, but one gets the sense we really haven't figured out what's going on.

This has pretty important implications for the planet, as everyone in the know (meaning everyone who's seen The Bee Movie) understands that without bees pollinating plants all over earth, we run out of plants pretty quickly, which is not a good thing. But scientists and their Extension counterparts are doing their best to research and educate the public, on the chance that someone will figure it out before its too late. In the mean time, bee keepers keep on keepin'...

And I, your intrepid wood/forest/bee investigator have braved the dangers of insect sting allergic reactions to bring you the front lines of bee activity...

I discovered a bee tree at the back of my property last weekend in a black cherry (Prunus serotina) tree, and fearlessly climbed to get a better shot. Wait for it, wait for it, you know what's coming...

Well, I'll keep an eye on the hive and see if it is active next spring. In the meantime, I'll research the topic a little and try to get a sense of how the issue might affect forest ecosystems in the coming years.

And if you're really interested and want to get into the effort, you might check out the Bee Keeping 101 class that Penn State is currently offering online.

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