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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...

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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...

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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 ...

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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....

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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...

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Meet Our Oldest Resident

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Plants and trees can be notoriously long lived (except perhaps the ones you buy at home improvement stores). California's own Great Basin bristlecone pines are undoubtedly exemplary, with "Methusaleh" (Pinus longaeva) so far at 4,844 years old. There is reportedly an even older bristlecone pine, but its identity and location are kept undisclosed. And these pines aren't clones of the original (like the 9,550-year-old spruce tree in Sweden or Pando, the ancient quaking...

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The rewards of the mango festival

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mango fans crowd the Garden House. It happens every July: mango madness descends on South Florida, with its epicenter at Fairchild's International Mango Festival. Steamy, rainy, sunny, then steamy again. No matter. The pure joy of tasting. The fun of tasting and rating, sniffing, holding mangoes fills the garden to the brim with lovers of this exquisite fruit. And the tastes can come in many forms, as visitors sampled mango and Key lime pie, mango smoothies, mango-orange drink, mango...

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Welcome to Found at Fairchild

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Welcome to my first blog post here at Fairchild! Like most of you, my real passion and interest always lead back to nature. Even when peering into human history, nature plays the starring role because we are an integral part of the natural world even as we alter it. I once wrote that if I could do whatever I wanted for a living, I'd look for weird and interesting plants and animals, photograph them, and then write about them. I actually get to do that here, in one of the premier botanical...

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Polydamas swallowtails visit

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Young Polydamas larvae. It took a couple of years, but the Polydamas Swallowtails finally have discovered my Aristolochia littoralis, calico flower. What's more, they are now very much a part of the butterfly populations that keep the airways busy around my garden. Aristolochia is a genus of tropical vines with pretty heart-shaped leaves. Some of the species have flowers shaped like old-fashioned Dutch pipes, and often the many species are referred to as pipevines. The pipevine...

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Urban bee die-off in Oregon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

One day last week, 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville, Oregon. A landscaper had sprayed blooming linden trees with Safari, a product containing dinotefuran. The ingredient is a systemic insecticide classified as a neonicotinoid, a relative of nicotine that acts on the nervous system of insects. Another June bee kill occurred in the town of Hillsboro. Bumblebees were innocently doing their pollination duty. The Oregon Department of Agriculture immediately suspended the use of 18...

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