Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Things I’ve Learned That I Love About Bees by Carol Ross


   

When I started writing If Not for a Bee, I wasn’t sure what was going to bring my hero Dr. Aidan Hollings to Alaska. I already knew he was a scientist - a botanist. I knew he was going to fall in love with heroine Janie Everett. But I needed a compelling reason for him to come to Alaska. He needed to study something.

There is plenty of interesting flora for a plant doctor to study in our most northern state - lichens, wildflowers, trees. I had already started taking notes on some. The monkey flower and the white bog-orchid were on the list as was the northern grass-of-Parnassus. How could it not be with that name? But nothing was really flashing that neon "pick me" sign.

Then one day I ran across an article about bees. Specifically, the article was about the study of native bumblebee species and their importance as pollinators of native plants species. I was hooked. And I knew Aidan would be, too. He’s a botanist. Of course he has an interest in bees.

So, it turns out, do I. Here are a few of my favorite fun facts. (Please don’t send me hate mail for not citing sources, for any inaccuracies you may encounter, or for expressing my obvious bias for bees over wasps.)

Cute, fuzzy bumble bee.

*You probably know that all the worker bees in a hive of honey bees are females. The drones (males) only responsibility is fertilization. They do not participate in nectar or pollen gathering or work of any kind. They rely entirely on the workers for food. If the worker bees stopped feeding the drones they would die of starvation. (There are so many jokes begging to be made about gender roles here, I’m going to refrain and let you have at it.)

*It is true that honey bees can only sting you once. This is because the honey bee stinger has barbs that face backward, making it impossible for them to retract the stinger. To sting is a death sentence for a honey bee. After it stings it flies away, leaving essential parts of its abdomen along with its stinger. But solitary bees, bumblebees, and wasps can sting multiple times. Most bees aren’t aggressive unless they feel threatened, whereas wasps seem to sting solely for sport. (This last statement has no basis in scientific fact and is strictly based on my own experiences.)

*Only the females of both bees and wasps can sting. (I think men can take their digs at women on this one.)

*Bees are cuter than wasps for a reason. They are fuzzier, chubbier and have a sweeter disposition than wasps. They use their furry legs and bodies to collect pollen. They feed this pollen and nectar to their babies. Honey bees “share” it with us in the form of honey. Wasps, on the other hand, share their venom in the form of a sting.

Chubby, sweet bumblebee.

*Wasps are scary-looking because they are, in fact, scary. Wasps are predators. They have a shinier, more streamlined appearance. They feed their young stuff like insects, caterpillars, and spiders. And watermelon and bbq chicken wings they steal from plates of innocent picnickers.

Bald-Faced Hornet AKA Scary-Mean-Faced Hornet.
 
Settle down, Ms. Grumpy Pants Hornet - it was just a joke.


Yellow Jacket AKA Picnic Crashing Watermelon Stealer

*Honey is one of the few foods that doesn’t expire. That's right. It never goes bad. That means if you find a jar of Grandpa's crystallized honey in the back of the pantry, all you have to do is place the jar in a pan of warm water until it melts and you're good to go. Researchers recently discovered honey estimated to be approximately 5,500 years old in the country of Georgia. Scientists say that technically there is no reason that you couldn't spread this golden goodness on a piping hot biscuit and enjoy. (Well, they didn't use those words exactly, but you get it.)

Under most conditions, this delicious delight never goes bad.

*The US almond crop depends 100% on honeybees for pollination. The numbers come in at approximately 90% for avocados, cherries, blueberries, and oranges. I’m just mentioning a few of my favorite “crops” here. Seriously, what would we do without these little guys?

Honey Bee, what would my almonds and I do without you?

IF NOT FOR A BEE and I are currently on tour with Prism Book Tours. I’ve had so much fun writing blog posts for all of these stops. I hope you’ll stop by and join us on one or two. There’s a Rafflecopter giveaway that includes a $50 Amazon card and a bundle of honey-sweet bee swag.

Head on over to Prism Book Tours or carolrossauthor.com for the schedule.

 
You could win one of these prizes in the Rafflecopter.

 The tour happens to coincide with the launch of my brand spanking new website. It’s so pretty. Click here to see what all the buzz is about: carolrossauthor.com

 Do you bee-lieve in love? Well, you're in luck because If Not For a Bee is on sale at the following book hives:

kobo 



Thank you so much for flitting by today. 
Because clearly, I've just been winging it! 





26 comments:

  1. I agree that bees are cuter than wasps. I don't like wasps too. I feel bad for the bees who sting. They just do that for their family protection. It's like soldiers who protect the country. They died to save the others.
    Wow it's actually amazing how the bees are the one who help most of the plants pollinations. We can't live without these fuzzy cute bees :)

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    1. I'm so glad to find a fellow bee fan here, Evelyn. I feel sorry for the little critters, too. Talk about selfless. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  2. Your website looks beautiful Carol!! Thanks for these bee tidbits. Until now I hadn't much interest in learning about bees because I've been stung by a yellowjacket (it was awful trying to get the stinger out. I was young and traumatized by the whole experience), and a wasp got me on my back several times at once, and that was definitely no fun either. Both happened when I was young and I never forgot either time. However....I've grown to appreciate the contributions bees make, and thank you for directing my attention to them. Your book cover is very lovely. ( :

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. I really love the site, too. It turned out even better than I hoped. I've had so much fun learning about bees. And yes, stay away from those wasps! I had a couple bad experiences myself as a kid. They really stick with you! But the importance of bees really can't be overstated. They have become pretty special to me.

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  3. What a great post! I'm not all THAT fond of bees, but I definitely share your lack of affection for wasps.

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    1. LOL, Liz! I understand. Bees will sting when provoked that's for sure. But those wasps are just mean.

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  4. What a cute post, Carol! I sure learned a lot about bees. I agree, they're cuter than wasps. I've only been stung once in my life. I was on the golf course and a yellow jacket got inside my shirt and stung me on the stomach. All I can say is, that was enough to last me a lifetime...boy did it hurt! Congratulations on your book. I love the cover!

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    1. Ouch, Jill! Once is enough. I've been stung more times than I can count. Even fell into a nest of bald-faced hornets when I was a kid and was stung multiple times. I spend so much time outside I get stung frequently and it's never fun. And thank you, I love the cover, too. I was so hoping I'd get a bee on it ( :

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  5. I love the post, Carol, and your website is beautiful!

    Best wishes with IF NOT FOR A BEE!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kate. I'm thrilled with the site as well. And thank you for your well wishes. I hope readers enjoy the story.

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  6. Love all your bee pictures! I am not a fan of wasps and they seem to be the ones I encounter the most often. Fuzzy bumblebees are much less annoying! I wish you tons of success with this book - can't wait to be done writing so I can read it!! xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Amy! Yep, wasps seem to look for trouble, while bees are just trying to do their business. Wishing you good luck and flowing words on your current project ( ;

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  7. I’m ordering the book today! Love your blog. As I think I’ve told you before, I used to work with honey bees and gave demonstrations at grammar schools. And of course this takes place in Alaska where my son lives. Looking forward to reading

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    1. (Sorry, I had problems with my computer being reprogramed and couldn't finish) Look forward to reading If not for a Bee. Thought your comments about wasps were right on.

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    2. Marion, I do remember! I remember the post you did about bees, too. Many times I've thought about you during my bee research. (My "bee daze" I like to call it.) I'd love to keep bees someday. My granddad had them and I was always so fascinated. Thank you for reading! Really hope you enjoy the story.

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  8. Carol - loved the wordplay. Promise to put out the buzz about your book. Last year, we had to call an exterminator about a bald-face wasp nest (big, ugly round thing) in one of our bushes. I know bees provide an important part of the growth process for a long of things, but I like to keep my distance from anything that buzzes - except you, of course. Good luck! Sounds like a great story, and who isn't fascinated by Alaska?

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    1. Too funny, Muriel. Yes, stay away from those wasps especially! Their nests are actually pretty fascinating, but I prefer to study them when they're vacant. Thanks so much for the well wishes.

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  9. Carol, Great post. I recall learning about bees when I was really young when my mom bought a book called: Bridget and the Bees. A few years ago bees were dying by the score and there was great consternation about lack of pollination in agricultural areas. I'm so glad your botanist is studying them. I battle wasps who seem to find the upper corners of my townhouse very attractive. They're persistent little rascals. I'd take bees any day. Looking forward to reading your book.

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    1. Yes, Roz. There has been an epidemic in some bee populations - Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD in bee circles. It's very alarming. And the theories about what causes it are varied and controversial. The science seems to still be out and for that reason I haven't discussed it much.

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  10. Your post made me laugh! And let me say, in no uncertain terms, that wasps are from the devil. I hate them! If there is one within a ten mile radius, he (I guess she???) will seek me out to sting me. My brother disturbed a nest in the barn when we were kids and I managed to escape with only 17 stings. He had 21. Bees on the other hand, I love...mainly because I love fruit and honey. Congrats on your book. It looks great! Can't wait to pick it up.

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    1. Clearly we are of one mind, LeAnne! Exactly how I feel. I had a similar experience while blackberry picking as a kid. I fell over a log and right into a nest, which resulted in multiple stings. It was a bald-faced hornet nest, like the one pictured above. Still makes me shiver when I recall the terror. And thank you for reading - I hope you enjoy the story.

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  11. I'm with Roz. I'll take bees any day over wasps! Good luck with the tour!

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    1. Wise choice, Mel. Growing up rural like you did you've probably had a few stings of your own. Thank you - the tour has been fun so far.

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  12. I'm with LeAnne--wasps are from the devil, just like yellow jackets! I was stung 5 or 6 times by yellow jackets once when I walked into a nest of them. But I fared better than my husband--one got between the arm of his glasses and his temple. Ouch! Still hurts to think about it.

    Can't wait to read If Not For A Bee!

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    1. Yep, totally agree. You did fare pretty well if you got into a nest. You must be fast! My husband once got stung inside his mouth. He took a bite of a cookie while a yellow jacket was trying to fly off with it. It was awful. He's allergic. You can imagine the swelling. Thanks for stopping by today, Patricia.

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  13. I learned a lot today. I'm fond of bees, too, and I loved the story. I'll leave a review once I get a minute.

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