Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Trees and bees

I had some sadness and some gladness this week.

First the sadness...

My office window looks out across the university campus where I teach.  In the distance I can see mountains that are often snow-topped - nice!  My immediate view, though is made up mainly of a parking lot, a street and a round-about, with a large auditorium in the immediate background.  I can also see part of a green space plus a strip of grass between a road the parking lot in the foreground.

Something was different when I looked out of my window on Monday morning.  It took me a few seconds to figure out what it was though.  Then it hit me - someone had cut down four LARGE blue spruce trees that used to line the street that runs past my building!  The blue arrows in the photo below show about where the ex-trees lived, and they were about as tall as the arrows too.

(I apologize for the grainy photo...the only camera I had was on my computer and I was balancing it with  one hand while I reached down to click the mouse to take the photo...heh heh, no, really!)

There is a new steam line being installed along the right-of-way of the road, and the trees were, alas, in the way.  I am not judging whoever made the decision to cut them down, but it made me sad to see them go.  It's like losing three friends I've had since I got here 10 years ago.  Sigh.

Maybe they've gone to tree heaven.

I know that sometimes a tree just has to go.  They can get too large, too unstable, or diseased and a hazard.  These were, as far as I know, healthy trees...they were just in the way.  Now they are gone, and it makes me sad.

I wanted to know how old they were, so a colleague and I went down there and counted the rings on one of the stumps that was still in the ground.  We counted about 40 rings.  This means that they were probably planted there around 30 years ago.  Sigh.

Now the gladness...

There are two apple trees in our back yard.  I whacked them back quite a bit last winter before the sap started to flow, and I wondered if they would blossom this year.  One tree pushed out only a few blossoms, but the other tree is completely covered!  It's a thing of beauty!

A couple of days ago though, we had a spring frost.  It was 27oF, and I worried that the blossoms would freeze and drop to the ground, and that we'd lose our harvest.

In the afternoon of the next day I went out and walked around the tree.  The edges of the blossoms were slightly curled - caused by the frost - but then I stuck my head up into the tree near the trunk, and heard one of my favorite sounds from nature - bees.

I stepped back and soon saw the bees.  The bees flitted from flower to flower and their pollen sacs were getting full.

I don't know if you know this, but these gatherer bees could mostly care less if you get close to them.  You can get right next to them and watch them work.  It's awesome.

I know at least that there was something in the flowers that attracted the bees, now only time will tell if the flowers avoided enough of the frost to set fruit.  But either way the bees were there, and that was one more thing right with the world.

Trees and bees...

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