Crab for Lunch

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I had quite the little adventure one day last week during a midmorning break. I've become fascinated with the many land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) living here at the Garden. It makes sense they're here. They like low-lying areas near the coast, and usually aren't found more than five miles from the coast, having to return to the ocean to disburse their eggs. (Note: I once saw one in my backyard in Country Walk, a good eight miles or so from the nearest salt water as the crow...

Learn More

New EPA label for bee-toxic pesticides

Sunday, August 18, 2013

EPA's bee icon to appear on four pesticidelabels that will kill bees and other insect pollinators. The Environmental Protection Agency has released a new pesticide label that prohibits use of four chemicals "when bees are present." The label will contain a bee symbol and information about spray drift and timing for use to avoid bees. The pesticides include are imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, all neonicotinoides.The new label will state this product can kill bees ...

Learn More

Plight of the Honeybees—Part Six

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jeff Pettis leads the Bee Research Lab of the Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md. "From the beekeepers standpoint, we're not finding answers fast enough. They're struggling," he says. And more attention on the research side is focused on neonicotinoids because "they move through the system of the plant and can concentrate in the pollen. It's a new route of exposure for pollinators. In general, the jury is out, but pesticide exposure has come up...

Learn More

Plight of the Honeybees—Part Five

Friday, August 16, 2013

Eric and Sue Olsen from Yakima, Washington, have been in the beekeeping business 32 years. They lost 65 percent of their bees in 2010 in California. Like others in the bees-on-wheels pollinator business, they transport their hives on trucks to different parts of the country when different crops come into flower. After the California die-off, says Sue Olsen, they had to get a $700,000 bank loan to buy new bees, "They were sprayed with something," she says. "It probably...

Learn More

Plight of the Honeybees—Part Four

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bee hive at the Fairchild Farm Dave Mendes says his colonies have grown dramatically to almost 20,000 hives over the last three years because he now is engaged in "high-input beekeeping" that requires far more work than beekeeping did a decade ago. He splits his hives annually, introduces new queens often, and he takes his bees to California in the spring to pollinate almonds, having switched from honey production. California almonds command the biggest pollination event on the...

Learn More

Plight of the Honeybees—Part Three

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Habitat loss has depleted bee foraging areas, impacting bee nutrition. "Acreage of corn and soybeans have high dollar value, and the acreage is expanding either into conservation areas or prairies or places good for pollinator habitats," Mendes says. Richard Campbell examines a beehive. In mid-summer at the Fairchild Farm, Campbell's six bee colonies would starve if they weren't fed honey in a landscape altered by nurseries, farms and houses. "That's the...

Learn More

Plight of the Honeybees—Part Two

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In April, European regulators suspended for two years the use of systemic pesticides related to nicotine called neonicotinoids, which, in high doses, can cause paralysis and death in insects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not suspended their use - although the Oregon Department of Agriculture stopped the use of 18 products containing one of the related chemicals after two massive bee kills in June while it investigates the incidents. The EPA established a Pollinator...

Learn More

Plight of the Honeybees

Monday, August 12, 2013

Richard Campbell sprinkles powdered sugar on his honeybees to control parasitic varroa mites that attach themselves to backs of bees like small ticks and drink hemolymph, or bee blood. Campbell, director of horticulture at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, long has had a hobby of beekeeping and oversees hives at the Fairchild Farm, at the Garden in Coral Gables and at his home in Homestead. The powdered sugar causes honeybees to groom themselves and scrape off the mites. Applying powdered ...

Learn More

Risen from the Dead: Cayman Sage

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ants battle inside a Cayman sage flower. Whether caused by human beings, or stemming from a more "natural" cause, there is little sadder than the extinction of an entire species. From my standpoint, it is the loss of ability to simply know the world that particular species experienced-or just the inability to view a beautiful plant or animal in its natural surroundings. That's perhaps selfish, but I think also a normal initial reaction. The greater loss is immeasurable....

Learn More

The Destroying Angel—Mushroom Hunting at Fairchild

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It had been raining intensely for a couple days straight as of Friday, July 19, which it often does in South Florida during the summer, our wet season. Time to mushroom hunt! I don't hunt them to eat, but rather to photograph and hopefully identify and research. I first ran across a nice mushroom under the sapodilla tree outside the Glasshouse Cafe. Then I walked a circuit along the path west past the Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion, past the Edible Garden, until soon the path turns...

Learn More