Artichokes, bees, and mics

by Luigi Anzivino

Artichoke flower
That’s very purple! (Click to enlarge)

A few weeks ago in Napa I saw, for the first time, an artichoke flower! Doesn’t it look absolutely fantastic? I mean, it’s positively wild. And to think that we eat them, and discard the pesky choke that, if left to bloom, will become such a stunning inflorescence. As I was taking photos, I noticed a little bee doing its thing. You know, pollinating. And I remembered that bees are in peril, and with them our whole food supply. I wonder if there has been any progress on that front.

I recently read about a researcher in Montana, Jerry Bromenshenk, who has an ingenious and alternative approach to diagnosing an unhealthy beehive: microphones. Apparently bees have a highly developed sense of smell, and within 30 seconds of sensing a dangerous chemical the whole beehive will change the sound it produces. Therefore, Dr. Bromenshenk is hoping, by threading a spaghetti-sized microphone into the beehive, to detect the warning signs of “colony collapse disorder” early on, and maybe identify its causes. Let’s all hope, because I like my fruits and veggies.

Click image to enlarge.
Originally uploaded on flickr