Feynman on Beauty
"I don't see how it subtracts, it only adds..."
I've been enthusiastically sharing strange and interesting facts about bees lately, but here are two quotes I liked from the bee book as well:
"Bee larvae are probably not well equipped to deal with diseases, but they have evolved strategies to help them escape some potential illnesses. One involves the co-elvolution of bees with tiny mites that crawl over the larvae eating potential disease-causing microbes. The mites act as hygienic helpers, just as an egret cleans a water buffalo's hide of ticks and our parents removed nits from our hair. Females of some species have special rosettes of hairs at the base of the abdomen to carry the mites, which arrange themselves over these hairs like shingles on a roof. ... But some species have gone even further, creating a cavity in the abdomen with only a tiny, mite-sized opening to the outside. The mites are completely surrounded by the body of the bee. Once transported to the host nest, they emerge and run around cleaning it of vermin. This would be something like our having a stomach-sized cavity in our chest or abdomen in which we carry kittens when we move house so mice can be removed from our new dwelling." ~ Laurence Packer, Keeping the Bees.
"The next night we disturbed a large male Cape buffalo that was eating the lush vegetation in the watered garden. The animal reared and then stared at us from a distance of no more than two meters. It looked as if it would charge. When the ranger clapped his hands and shouted loudly, the enormous beast took two steps back, but it stayed in attack posture. The ranger clapped and shouted again. This time, the animal took two steps forward, and we backed out of there as fast as we could. I consider myself lucky that slugs are the worst enemies of my homegrown fruits and vegetables. If I had buffaloes to contend with in my garden, I would likely give up; my usual pest-control tactics of sprinkling salt or squishing between finger and thumb would obviously not work." ~ Laurence Packer, Keeping the Bees.