BUMBLEBEES - WHAT'S HAPPENING?
We've all heard about the declining population of honeybees. What isn't necessarily discussed as much is the fact that bumblebees are also in trouble. According to a 2011 article in The Guardian, U.S. bumblebee populations have dropped as much as ninety-six percent in recent decades! There is debate over the exact cause - pesticide use, climate change, disease, etc. Whatever the cause, these gorgeous creatures are undeniably in trouble.
WHY WE SHOULD CARE:
Aside from the fact that a beautiful, friendly insect is in danger of disappearing forever, we also need to consider how much we rely on bees. Bees are the ones pollinating approximately ninety percent of crops around the world! Bumblebees in particular are indispensable because they are capable of "buzz-pollinating," which makes them more adept at pollinating plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and certain kinds of berries that other insects are not as well-suited for.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?
I feel like we are inundated with article after article, laying out which species of plants and animals are being threatened, but we are never really given information about how we as individuals can help. Fortunately, with a little digging, I found a few tips. Bumblebees are disappearing in part because their habitats are not as prevalent as they once were. In some areas, as temperatures have risen due to climate change, bumblebees have died off, but for some reason, they are not migrating to cooler temperatures to make up for their loss of habitat. One of the ways to help, therefore, is to make our own yards and neighborhoods as inviting as possible. A 2017 article in Scientific American had this to say:
" plant a wide variety of native plants that provide continuous blooms throughout the season. Consult the Xerces Society, Pollinator Partnership, or local experts to learn which native species will support pollinators. Plant masses of flowers close together in gardens and yards to help attract bees. Encourage neighbors to plant pollinator-friendly wildflowers or gardens to create a larger network of pollinator habitat. Avoid using pesticides, especially systemic insecticides that persist throughout the plant or in soils. Check that plants and seeds purchased from nurseries are not pre-treated with systemic insecticides."
"You can also provide places for bumble bees to nest, while making sure not to disturb nests that you find. Bumble bee colonies are often underground, or in compost, rock walls, hollow logs and under bunch grasses. Nests are occupied for only a year."
So, there you have it - a few easy ways to help save the bumblebee, and all bees. They may be small, but their impact is undeniable, and it is huge. We will miss them when they are gone, so let's help give them what they need to not only survive, but thrive!
It's been a while since I've written a blog! I've been focusing more on my Facebook page. If you don't follow me yet, my page is called Natures Poet: Photos by Julie Hammond. Follow me to keep up to date with my photo journeys! I'm going to make an effort to write more here, though.
Today's post is titled "Circle of Life," and there is a reason. As a nature photographer, it is inevitable that I sometimes come across situations that are less cute and cuddly than others. I still think it is important to share these photos since they are the truth of nature. Fair warning - a couple of these photos might be hard for some to look at - No blood and guts, don't worry - but I did encounter an alligator enjoying a meal. If you don't want to see it, go ahead and stop scrolling, and come back tomorrow when I'll post something cute!
A cardinal built a nest in a bush in my front yard. I had the chance to watch her building the nest, sitting on her eggs, and I even got a photo of the babies once they hatched! It was an amazing thing to watch over the course of several days. I feel privileged to have been able to see it, and I'm glad I could get some photos to share with you.
I've spotted this alligator every once in a while in my backyard pond. The other day, he came up into the yard. I actually heard him before I saw him. I was inside the house and heard a loud crack. Looking out the window, I saw the alligator in the yard at the edge of the water. It was clear he had something in his mouth. I went outside to get a closer look (with a zoom lense - do not approach alligators!) and I saw he had caught a turtle. I didn't know alligators ate turtles, what with the hard shell, but I guess they will eat just about anything. Nature can be deadly - this turtle lost his life that day, but his loss allows the alligator to live another day... As someone wise once said, "We are all connected in the great circle of life" ~Mufasa, The Lion King~
Here are some pictures of happy turtles to soothe the sting...
I woke up early this morning and decided to go for a walk with my camera. The sun was just coming up. There was fog all around, and the dew was shining beautifully on spiderwebs and plants all along my path. I am so happy that I had the chance to see parts of nature I might not ordinarily notice.
I have wanted to get a clown fish and anemone for a long time now... If I'm being honest, it has probably been since 2003 when Finding Nemo came out. Well, every year, I allow myself to use part of my tax refund to get a gift before putting the rest in savings. This year, my gift was to make my wish come true...
The tank is a bio-cube, which is ideal for beginner salt-water tank owners because it comes with almost everything you need. Clown-fish are also ideal for beginning hobbyists.
A Bubble Anemone
This beauty was in the pond in my backyard and let me get a few good shots while she hunted for her breakfast.
Playing with texture
Close-up of an ant working hard on an anthill after a rainy morning
The heart of the tree.... And the marks left by a hungry woodpecker
Can you find the bird in the berries and bramble?
Certain places can make you feel like you are at complete peace and one with the universe. For me, that is often when I am around water. I did notice in the recent snowstorm, however, that being surrounded by blankets of white snow gives me the same feeling. Everything was quieter, calmer, and more peaceful than an ordinary day.
Where do you go to feel this way?
I took a trip to the duck pond today. The ducks and geese who live here must be very used to people because they came right up to me! I loved every minute of it!
Some of the most amazing creatures live under the sea, and there are new species being discovered all the time.
Did you know that a starfish can move any direction they want just be switching which leg leads them? They can also regrow a lost leg!
It is well known that male seahorses carry and give birth to the young, but did you know that they are actually one of the very few monogamous species of fish? They are also constantly grazing for food, and can eat more than three thousand brine shrimp in a single day! Strange as it may seem for a sea creature, seahorses are not very good swimmers. They can easily become exhausted in rough waters, and they prefer instead to ride currents when not clinging to reeds.
Snakes get an unfair reputation. They are not evil creatures that want to attack every human they see - unless, of course, they're serpents being possessed by the devil, and let's face it - that just happened the one time.
Check out the king cobra in the photo above. I was astounded by her elegance and grace as I watched her move. This is a creature well-deserving of her royal name. It is unfortunate that they are at risk of extinction in the wild. Admittedly, it may be terrifying to encounter one who feels threatened. King cobras can grow up to eighteen feet long, and can raise itself up high enough to look a full grown man in the eyes, but they will always choose to avoid a human encounter if it is possible. Though not the most venomous of snakes, one bite can deliver enough neurotoxin to wipe out twenty men, or an elephant, BUT did you know that the same venom is used in the development of pain relievers and arthritis medication? AND, according to National Geographic, of all snakes in the world, the king cobra is the only one that builds a nest for its eggs. The faithful mother will then stand guard over her nest, protecting the eggs until they hatch. This snake deserves all of the admiration and respect we can offer.
Now HERE is the most venomous snake - the gaboon viper. Growing to roughly five feet, this viper is also known for having the longest fangs of any other snake - two inches long! You definitely do not want to get bitten by this snake. Fortunately, they are also known for being incredibly docile. They usually will not even hiss if being handled, though they can do so quite loudly if they feel threatened. A bite is always a last resort. I have learned this to be the truth of nearly all snakes. Whether it be hissing, rattling, or making themselves appear bigger with a hood, a snake will always ask you to back off before choosing to bite. It is best to show them the respect they deserve and walk away.
The gaboon viper in the photo above and on the right has just begun the shedding process. If you look carefully, you can see the skin peeling away. He is rubbing his head along the debris on the ground to help loosen it further. This is an incredible thing to watch, and it makes me incredibly grateful that people don't have to go through this - and that if we did, we at least have hands to help speed the process along. It seems very uncomfortable!
The photo above might be one of my favorite snake photos I've taken. Can you find the sand viper? Unfortunately, I can find next to no information about them, so if any of you know any cool facts about them, please comment, and let me know!
I hope that these photos have shown you how beautiful these animals are. They are truly amazing creatures who should be admired, respected, and loved - not feared and hated.
Until next time!
"In the end, we will conserve only what we love; We will love only what we understand; We will understand only what we are taught"
I went to Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC today. I love going to zoos. While a part of me occasionally feels sorry for the animals living their lives in enclosures with people pressing their faces against the glass all day, every day, I also understand their importance. Most animals living in zoos arrived there through rescue or conservation efforts. Many of them would not survive in the wild, and in their new homes, they are given the best care possible.
Not only that, but without zoos, people would often never see the types of animals who live there, and as the quote above states, conservation efforts rely on generations of people being taught about wildlife so that they can understand, and therefore love the animals that need our protection.
The photo to the left is a koala, a marsupial native to Australia. The IUCN red list of threatened species lists koalas as vulnerable, which means that, being one step above being placed on the endangered species list, they are at high risk of extinction in the wild. Despite sleeping 19 hours a day, koalas need a great deal of space to survive. National Geographic estimates each koala needs access to approximately 100 trees to get the nutrients they need. They survive mostly on eucalyptus leaves, which is also where they get the majority of their water. With Australia's woodlands diminishing, the koala's habitat and ability to survive shrinks with them.
Gorillas are primates who live in rain forests in a number of African countries. They are listed as "critically endangered," which means they are at extreme risk for extinction in the wild. Although the mention of gorillas may bring about images of chest pounding and ferocious roars, gorillas are generally calm and not at all aggressive unless provoked. Poaching and the destruction of their habitat have had a devastating effect on gorilla populations, and unless something is done soon, the only gorillas left may very well be the ones in captivity.
While the zoo is a fun and exciting place to visit, and an excellent way to introduce your kids to a love of nature, there are a few things to keep in mind. I noticed more than one child slamming their fists against glass enclosures and shouting at animals, hoping they would perform in some way. The parents just stood by and watched. It is important to remember that, though the animals are living in enclosures, they are still wild animals and should be given the respect they deserve, no matter how safe you may feel on the other side of glass or a fence. The animals are there to be protected and admired. They are not there to put on a show for anyone's entertainment. So parents, please teach your children not to bang on the glass, not to press their faces and tongues (yes, I saw this today, too) against the glass. Teach them not to yell at the animals, and teach them not to shove other guests aside in their efforts to start hitting another animal's enclosure. The animals deserve to be afforded the respect to live their lives in peace, whether in the wild or in a zoo.