Thursday, 23 September 2021

What Makes Bees Different?

Bees are unique in several ways. In their anatomy, they are like their carnivorous wasp ancestors, but in their biology, they have evolved into something completely different. Most honeybees do not have hardened mandibles (mouthparts) for chewing flesh. They sip nectar from flowers using a particular proboscis. Bees are not parasitic within other animals like some wasp larvae, but some are social parasites, rather like cuckoos.

Honeybees focus their diet on pollen and nectar and play a pivotal role in the pollination of numerous species of flowering plants. Furthermore, from a human perspective, what really makes bees unique is their significant agricultural, economic, and scientific importance.


Bees are amazingly effective pollinators, in part because of their sheer numbers. Honeybee colonies have tens of thousands of individuals perhaps up to eighty thousand per colony. It only takes one bee to visit, for example, one almond flower, and then a second almond flower, to make an almond. And there are well over a million honeybee hives in the handful of Californian counties that produce almonds for the entire United States and regions beyond.

Furthermore, multiply these numbers by the over 135 crops that bees pollinate worldwide, and then factor in all the countries around the world growing fruits and vegetables. Therefore, you will start to get a sense of the vital importance of bees to agriculture. These figures also demonstrate how massively effective bees are in driving our current agricultural practices. However, it is not just honeybees that are vital to our agriculture; many other types of bees are terrific pollinators too, including bumblebees, mason bees, and squash bees among others.


In the USA, honeybees are estimated to contribute over $20 billion annually to the economy. However, the honeybee population has been declining severely since the 1980s. The main reason due to the onset of new diseases and pests, pesticides, and habitat loss. Hence, this decline has coincided with an increase in agricultural demand.

The result has been a significant rise in the price of food, especially in the case of almonds, which up to now have relied entirely on honeybees for pollination. The blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria) has recently been introduced as a pollinator in commercial almond orchards, and other bee species are being studied as possible pollinators for this crop.

Moreover, the bumblebees, are too used for crop pollination and make a key contribution to the global economy. In China, a shortage of bees means that human laborers now pollinate some crops by hand. And even in the United States, some farmers are turning to human hands equipped with pollination wands and swabs a technique already used on at least one urban farm in Boston to guarantee crop yields.


The research value of honeybees is massive, and not only for their contributions in the field of agriculture. Even though honeybees can be trained, and the blue orchard bee is a focus of research to train the bees to a target fruit blossom scent for increased pollination efficiency.


Given that the life span of a worker bee is typically a few weeks to a few months, bees are also used in research relating to age-related disorders such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (Memory loss), studying relationships between aging, memory, and behavior. Honeybees also act as research subjects in the study of epidemiology, conservation, communication, sociology, genetics, chemical ecology, and many more subjects.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021


THE FIELDFARE was in the past called the ‘snow magpie’. It was known for migrating late and arriving in the south in large flocks along with the first snow. The first thing we hear from such flocks is often clear short scraping ‘gih’ or ‘glih’ notes followed by a soft chattering ‘chaka-chak-chak’. Often flocks come in large, loose formations, like an armada. In Sven Nilsson’s nineteenth-century Scania, these flocks were the last chance of the year to gather in edible birds. Where I live on Gotland, the local birds often begin to move around in groups or small flocks from the end of September, but it is generally not until the end of October or in November that I see any bigger flocks on the move southwards. Rowan, Swedish whitebeam, hawthorn, and juniper bushes are thought to be the focus for their autumn foraging in my district, the berries provided in perfect portion-sized packages. 

In spring it is earthworms that are important: but apples and pears in gardens or in the open countryside are also consumed with great relish. The local birds have usually, with the help of crows, cleared most of the rowanberries when the northern thrush flocks arrive. They stop off, however, if there is food, but move on if gets cold and there is a shortage of fruit and berries. It is mostly solitary individual birds that turn up at the feeding stations in winter, even when larger flocks are present in the surrounding countryside. When it was time to paint a Fieldfare for this book, I started, as usual, to ponder over where in my numerous sketchbooks I have some field sketches. 

Then it suddenly struck me how rarely I have painted or drawn this species in the field – perhaps I have never done it. Certainly, I have painted newly fledged Fieldfare young several times, which I associate with my childhood. When I was small, perhaps ten years old, I always took home young birds barely able to fly in the belief that they had fallen out of the nest. Soon enough I realized that they often hopped out of the nest before they could fly, but my interest in keeping a bird was greater than my intellect. I fed them with worms and thought that they were happy, with their tufts of down on the head, big yellow gape flanges, and cocky expressions. 

They were in some way caricatures of themselves. I had a small menagerie with frogs, caterpillars, slow-worms, and every spring a Fieldfare young or Magpie young. But I cannot recollect having tried to create a picture of a full-grown Fieldfare. Fieldfares nest in my own garden almost every year, so it would have been natural that I had at some time made a drawing of them. All the other thrushes I have painted here in south Gotland, including the rare Ring Ouzel. Perhaps it is a manifestation of the fact that the Fieldfare is altogether too commonplace, but I know that such is not the case. 

Is it its appearance, its hard-to-interpret face with an unusual marking around the eye and black bags under the eyes and an odd blue-grey color and the seemingly irregular black spots? Is it quite simply because it is facially a little unattractive that I have never become absorbed in this bird? Despite that, one of the innumerable faces of Fieldfares should have inspired me to get out the watercolor pad, but I do not remember any such occasion. I think that, among birdwatchers, the Fieldfare ends up lowest of the thrushes in status, the species which produces the least feeling of excitement when we focus on it. 

In autumn we usually look through the flocks to see if any other, rare thrush has sneaked in – at best we find a Redwing, which at least raises the pulse rate a little. Birds that are somewhat uncommon are often accorded an unmerited aesthetical quality in addition; we imagine that we see beauty in what is uncommon. The Fieldfare is an out-of-tune singer, or in any case a very poor one. If somebody approaches their nests they attack by defecating on the intruder. That wonderful songster the Blackbird is Sweden’s national bird while its congener, the Fieldfare, is ignored or regarded as a berry thief. Fieldfare has never achieved a prominent place in Swedish nature-writing or nature-painting. 

Gunnar Brusewitz however, painted at least once, but perhaps several, watercolors of Fieldfares. I find it in his first large-format book, Skissbok (‘Sketchbook’) from 1970. It is the only picture I remember. After having hunted out photographs and brought out a traffic-killed bird from the freezer, I set to work. But I am empty, empty of anything to relate to. I do not have any of my own inner visions of the type which abound on the internet if one searches for photographs of the species where it is perched on a snowy or frosty berry-tree branch. I know that I have on some occasion seen a paler female which had an unusually gentle expression, was timider and had less black beneath the eye, but I do not have a drawing of it. I had to make a late hunt for observations of Fieldfares. 

The first thing I detected was its call. While other thrushes hardly converse in the autumn, the Fieldfare communicates quite frequently. It reverts to brief attempts at the song as if it were seizing the opportunity to rehearse its song; I think that it sounds pleasant at a time when the Blackbird sounds most like a chicken, ‘kuck’ and ‘pick’. And after several different attempts to draw the species, I begin to see the bird, recognize its face, understand which parts convey the character. I came to the conclusion that Fieldfare is, despite everything, both ugly and attractive at the same time. 

For comparison, one could perhaps wonder if the plumages of the other thrushes were designed in Milan or Paris, with black, buffy grey, brown, and a tinge of ochre, whereas the Fieldfare is an odd mixture from London and the 1970s. Yellow shirt with black stripes and squares, wine-red lumber jacket, grey flannel trousers, and black shoes. The Fieldfare is really unusual in its pattern, with an assortment of colors and markings which seem somewhat surprising in comparison with the more sober look of the other thrush species. 

It has, with varying degrees of saturation, a rusty-yellow breast, heavily streaked, changing into dark spade shapes on the side of the breast and then arrowheads or horseshoes over the flanks. The crown, nape, and rump are greys, while the rest of the upper side has a cold reddish-brown tone. The many varying patterns and color tones make it distinctive and easy to recognize. Males generally have a more intensively streaked throat and bigger black spots on the crown. 

Females have narrower, pointed spots on the crown which are difficult to see in the field. Young, during their first winter, often retain a few outer greater coverts, which contrast somewhat with the new coverts in color and pattern. If it is only a pair of the outermost, however, the difference is rarely visible. The juvenile coverts are, moreover, usually shorter than the new ones. Old males exhibit a strong contrast between the warm reddish-brown upper back (mantle), which often appears dark-spotted, and the pale grey lower back and rump. Young females sometimes have a markedly browner tail and can have a softer and more uniform brown color on the back and a more buff than grey rump. 

Some birds in autumn have an almost all-dark bill and this is the rule with young females. Some females have very little streaking on the throat and breast. I was surprised at how big the individual differences were when I finally began to see them with pencil and brush.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Anti-g flying Suit

 A fighter plane making a tight turn acts like a spin-dryer. The so-called “g” force drains blood out of the pilot’s brain, possibly Anti-g flying Suit By the 1950s, suits like this one by Dunlop were filled with air, not water. causing a blackout. When a team under Sir Frederick Banting, better known for his work on insulin, discovered this, US scientist Wilbur Franks started work on an anti-g suit. The design his team produced was made from two layers of rubber with water in between them. When the suit was laced tightly around the pilot, it kept the blood in place, allowing tighter turns. The Franks Flying Suit Mk II was ready by 1941. Sadly, on his way to Britain to demonstrate it, Banting died in an airplane crash.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Hummingbirds and Pollination

 Most tropical plants rely on animals to transfer pollen from flower to flower. The most important animal pollinators are bees, but there are many others, including other insects, bats, and hummingbirds. Since flowers “want” to be pollinated, they have features that match the physical and sensory abilities of pollinators. To achieve pollination, flowers provide a reward, advertise it, and are constructed so that visitors come into contact with their stamens and stigma. The commonest reward is nectar, but others include pollen and less usual substances, such as waxes, oils, and perfumes (the latter is used by orchid bees as sexual attractants).

Nectar varies in the sugars it contains. Flowers pollinated by hummingbirds, butterflies, hawkmoths, and many bees secrete nectar rich in sucrose, whereas those pollinated by bats and by passerine birds (including American orioles and tanagers, Australian honeyeaters, and Old World sunbirds) have nectar-rich in glucose and fructose, sugars that are also found in fruits.

The significance of these intriguing differences is unknown, but they do not seem to matter much to hummingbirds and bats. Hummingbirds happily feed on leftover nectar in bat flowers, while bats routinely empty hummingbird feeders full of sucrose solution. Flowers have evolved a variety of adaptations to attract specific pollinators. Certain plant families are particularly important for hummingbirds, some of the most notable being the Heliconiaceae, Bromeliaceae, Ericaceae, Rubiaceae, Acanthaceae, and Gesneriaceae.

These flowers are ornithophilous, or bird-loving, and exhibit clear adaptations for pollination by hummingbirds. Most of them are either red or have red bracts or leaves that advertise their presence, red being a color that is conspicuous to hummingbirds but not to most insect competitors. In addition, the flowers are diurnal, have a tubelike corolla that fits the slender bill of a hummingbird, and lacks any scent (which might attract insects), and most also lack a landing platform that would provide easy access for insects.

Flowers aimed at other pollinators have other characteristics. Those pollinated by hawkmoths, for example, are nocturnal, white (to show up in the dark), fragrant, and also tubular (to fit a moth’s proboscis). Bat flowers are nocturnal and usually pale, with a strong musky odor, and some have “sonar guides,” which bats detect by echolocation. There are two main types of hummingbird flowers. One sort has long tubular flowers (mostly 30 to 40 mm long) that secrete copious nectar; these tend to be scattered and are usually visited by traplining hummingbirds. The other sort has short tubular flowers (mostly less than 20 mm long); these contain less nectar but are massed together in numbers great enough to be worth defending by territorial hummingbirds. These differences have consequences for the plants.

Trapliners tend to carry pollen from plant to plant, which results in cross-pollination and enhanced reproductive success. In contrast, territorial hummingbirds foster self-pollination. Sometimes a hummingbird visits so many flowers on the same plant that its face gets covered with white or golden pollen, making it look like a different species. Hummingbirds that intrude into territories to steal nectar are probably more useful to a plant than the territorial owner. Since these filchers visit flowers only briefly before being chased off, they perhaps deliver pollen to plants of the same species some distance away. Another point to be considered is why many flowers use hummingbirds as pollinators rather than insects.

After all, insects can be attracted with a smaller reward of nectar. The probable reason is that hummingbirds are more reliable as pollinators when the weather is bad, particularly at high altitudes. Bees and butterflies remain inactive when it is very wet or too cold, so flowers dependent on them fail to be pollinated. Hummingbirds are active in all kinds of weather, so it is no surprise that there are many more hummingbird-pollinated plants in the highlands than in the lowlands.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

The Oriental Rat Snake

The Oriental Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosa) is a medium-sized, active, diurnal snake associated with open habitats including agricultural systems; much of the diet consists of amphibians and commensal rodents. The species has a wide distribution through much of Asia, from Iran to China and Southeast Asia, and has been commercially harvested for the international skin trade since the early 20th century. From west to east, it occurs in Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. The Oriental Rat Snake is not strongly associated with wetland habitats. In the wet season, the species shifts to drier areas that do not flood.

The species is also used in the illegal meat trade in China. Under Indonesian legislation, only the harvest of live specimens and skins of the Oriental Rat Snake is permitted – the trade in meat of this species is therefore illegal. During the 1980s most specimens in trade originated from Java (Indonesia) and Thailand. However, the trade has banned the harvest of the species in 1985, and the distinct decline in export volumes after 1986 from Indonesia was the result of a decreased market demand rather than any negative impact on populations of the Oriental Rat Snake.

General biological and life history characteristics of the species

  • The Oriental Rat Snake is a medium-sized, active, non-venomous, diurnal snake associated with open habitats including agricultural systems.
  • Medium-sized snake, reaching about 2.5 m in length and 5-10 cm in girth.
  • Males grow longer than females and have larger heads, longer tails, and greater body mass than females of the same length
  • Reaches maturity at 9 months 120 cm for females  
  • Clutch size average 13 
  • May lay 2 clutches per year.
  • Widespread generalist thrives in a human-modified environment
  • Unknown density and population trends
  • No major threats known

Arboreal behavior is believed to be largely associated with resting. Parts of the range of the Oriental Rat Snake overlap with the Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (Ptyas korros) and where they overlap both species may share the same habitat. Both species search paddy fields for prey and hide beneath dense vegetation along riverbanks. However, the Indo-Chinese Rat Snake is more closely associated with habitats along watercourses than the Oriental Rat Snake.

This species is a predator of rodents and amphibians, and to a lesser extent lizards, insects, birds, and even insects.  Rodents are reportedly the favored food, however; amphibians were the predominant prey of Oriental Rat Snake populations in Central Java.  Snakes are either captured by experienced harvesters or opportunistically by seasonal rice farmers. Snake capture is secondary to farming activities and appears to be carried out in an ad hoc manner. According to several traders, the harvesting activity levels increase with the onset of the wet season (the first heavy rains after the dry season).

In East Java the wet season typically occurs between December and April, and in Central Java between October and December and February to April, depending on the geographical location. During the dry season (May to August) the species is extremely scarce, and another collector estimated that the capture of the Oriental Rat Snake decreases by 50-60% in the dry season. 

During the dry season, the people work in the rice fields so that less manpower is available to capture snakes during the rice harvest, and so the study species is less common in trade during the dry season. The species occurs on other Indonesian islands, including Sumatra and Sulawesi. Furthermore, Increased enforcement is needed to reduce illegal trade.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Halime Hatun - The Beloved Wife of Ertugrul Bey

Halime Hatun Biography

Halime Hatun was the wife of brave warrior Ertugrul Bey and mother of Osman 1 in the 13th century. According to some Ottoman legends, their actual origins are not known. Halime Hatun variously referred to as ‘Hayme Ana’ and ‘Khaimah’. Although, Hayme Ana was the traditional name of Ertugrul’s mother.
There is no clear evidence found that she is the mother of Osman 1. According to many historians, she was a Seljuk Princess and married with warrior Ertuğrul and gave birth to four sons: Gündüz Alp (1229), Savcı Bey (1233), Osman I (Not Known), Saru Batu (Not Known).

Burial Place

The burial place of Halime Hatun is located in the garden of the Ertugrul Gazi grave in Sogut Turkey. Which was added in the late 19th century by Sultan Abdul Hamid II? In 1358, a tomb was built for a Halime Hatun in Gevaş. It is believed that she was the daughter of Seljuk ruler Melik Izeddin of Karakoyunlu dynasty. According to one historian, Turgut Guler Halime Hatun was buried in Domanic.


Halime Hatun's character was performed by Esra Bilgic in the famous Turkish drama series Dirilis Ertugrul as Seljuk princess.


Her origins are not cleared. She was born in 1194 and died in Sogut in 1281 at the age of 87.

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Friday, 5 June 2020

10 Important Facts about Turtles Not Everyone Knows

The tortoise is one of the oldest species on our planet. Here are some interesting facts about this amazing creature that you may not be aware of.

  • 1.    The oldest creature – the tortoise is one of the oldest creatures in the world. Their earliest specimens date back to the Triassic period 260 million years ago. Fortunately, turtles' habit of burrowing and living in water led to their long-term survival on this land.
  • 2.  In the animal kingdom, long-lived creatures live almost all of them. A typical tortoise can live between 10 and 80 years of age, while large breed turtles often live more than 100 years. Because it is difficult to accurately measure the age of more than a century, researchers believe that turtles can live hundreds of years.
  • 3.   Hundreds of species of turtles - There are currently 356 known species of turtles. These are all reptiles and they all have hard shells on their bodies. This is the only similarity between them. Some of the specific species include sea turtles, leather shells on the back, snapping turtles, pond turtles and soft shell turtles
  • 4.  Semi-aquatic and aquatic turtles – It belong to the testosterone family, which includes reptiles, and their bodies are protected by a hard outer shell. The main difference between turtles and tortoises is that tortoises live exclusively on land, while most turtles live in or around water
  • 5.    Meat and herbivorous tortoises - Most tortoises are actually vegetarians, but one particular species is almost entirely carnivorous. These typical turtles eat everything from small fish to small mammals found in water.
  • 6.      Eggs – all species of turtles lay eggs on the ground, but they are not animals that raise their young. No breed of turtle breeds its own offspring. When babies hatch, they grow on their own.
  • 7.  The sex of turtles is determined by temperature, - just like crocodiles. If the temperature is below 27.7 degrees Celsius, a male tortoise is born from the egg. But if the hatching of the egg is above 31 degrees Celsius, the female is born. As the oceans get warmer, so do more female turtle.
  • 8.    Surprising direction – The Sea turtles have the amazing ability to return to the very shore where they were born years ago. Like many animals, turtles find their way into the ocean by sensing the individual lines of the earth's magnetic field. They also detect small changes in coastal magnetic lines and reach their birthplace.
  • 9.    Turtles have a very good ability to see in good looking water. Researchers have discovered that they can see a range of different colors and even prefer some colors over other colors. Although sea turtles are known for their in-house GPS, there is evidence that they do not see well on land beyond the water.
  • 10. The survival of six of the seven species of turtles is threatened by human activity after many species have survived for two to four million years. Every year thousands of turtles die in fishermen's nets. In some parts of the world, they are killed for eggs, meat and their shells.

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Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Locust Swarms have invaded the globe at various times

Locusts are destroying crops in Pakistan. In human history, large swarms of locusts have come from America to Australia and have been clearing crops, orchards, fields, and orchards. In the Qur'an, the torment of the locust heart is mentioned with reference to Pharaoh. The giant swarms of locusts invaded the globe in different periods so that Noah had to face a severe famine.

Over the past 2,000 years, large swarms of locusts have invaded China, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. In 1875, the Rocky Mountain Locust, which covered more than 12 trillion and 188,000 square miles, turned vast areas of the United States into barren land.

Beginning with India in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Bombay Locust encompassed the whole of Southeast Asia. From 1926 to 1989, five major locust heart epidemics engulfed the world. In 1915 Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon, in 2003 the African Locust, in 2013 the Madagascar Locust, and in 2016 the Argentine Locust cleared crops and greenery. According to research, a swarm of 70 billion locusts spread over 460 square miles consumes 300 million pounds of crops a day.

Friday, 29 May 2020

The crocodile that survived World War II died

Saturn, a World War II survivor of the bombing, died at the age of 84. According to a statement from the zoo in the Russian capital, Moscow, Saturn died yesterday morning at the age of 84.

The crocodile that survived World War II died

The Saturn crocodile was born in the United States and was donated to the Berlin Zoo in 1936. However, the zoo was bombed in 1943 during World War II and escaped.

The crocodile was later found by British troops and handed over to the Soviet Union. Saturn, on the other hand, is said to be an old butt fish and is said to have been part of Hitler's private zoo in Germany, but this has not been confirmed.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Pacu - A Fish have Human Like Teeths

Pacu is a South Americanfreshwater fish found in most rivers and streams in the basins of lowland Amazonia.  Because Pacu, is related to the meat-eating piranha, both sharing the same subfamily Serrasalminae, though they have different food habits. The piranha is a carnivorous species while the pacu is omnivorous with vegetative tendencies. The difference is evident in the structure of their teeth. Piranha has pointed razor-sharp teeth whereas Pacu have squarer, straighter teeth that eerily resemble those of humans.
Pacu uses its teeth mainly to crush nuts and fruits, but sometimes they also eat other fish and invertebrates. They usually eat floating fruits and nuts that drop from trees in the Amazon, and on a few occasions were reported to attack the testicles of male swimmers mistaking them to be floating nuts. This has earned them the name of "ball-cutter" after they castrated a couple of local fishermen in Papua New Guinea.
One toddler needed surgery after a pacu bit her finger at Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World in Scotland. Pacus are legal to own in the USA can be bought in aquarium stores and are easy to rise. The trouble is numerous aquarium owners are unaware that Pacu’s can grow up to 4 feet long, which is way too large for a typical home aquarium.
A fully-grown adult has strong, heavy grinders set in the rear of the jaw too, which are particularly important for crushing the shells of its prey. As with humans, this unique combination of teeth helps the sheepshead process a wide-ranging, omnivorous diet consisting of a variety of vertebrates, invertebrates and some plant material.