Honeybees & Helium

Rather than regaling my friends and family with some newly read snippet of information (at great length and several times over, regardless of reciprocated interest), I can now detail these troubling, enthralling or peculiar tales here. And as a bonus, I save my companions the effort of feigning interest in my new and passing fancies!

These all-consuming interests are typified by my wondering where all the bees have gone and my fear of the looming helium crisis, but extend to various areas of science.


  1. Are you sure that your friends and family do not appreciate your snippets of information? While I love reading this blog, I do worry that you may be diverted from entertaining and educating those souls who surely eagerly await the latest mini-talk on a new and passing fancy.

  2. Do you do requests? If so, would you consider writing something about jökulhlaups? If you would include even a passing reference to the recent Eyjafjallajökull jökulhlaup, that would be most excellent. Thank you.

    1. Interesting thoughts here. The Eyjafjallajökull is an ice cap in Iceland that covers the caldera of a volcano. Others might remember that recently volcanic ash from its activity disrupted flights over Europe in 2010. Now a jökulhlaup refers specifically to a glacial outburst flood, much like the one I described for Lake Agassiz, not just any environmental event. But I certainly like the idea of broadening its usage, it’s a great word that I’ve managed to avoid having to try to pronounce! Do you use it in conversation?

  3. i wrote a piece a few years ago, when i first heard of the varroa virus. there was no other way to express my fears…
    thought you might like it anyway.
    [thanks for your great site – hoping to read some of the blogs, and some of your pieces in the smh(?) please tweet them…]

    When I got back home I was attacked by an insect. A HUGE insect. No, wait. Not an insect—a type of SPIDER. It jumped up onto my back and burrowed in under a fold of skin. It was so big, it was about a quarter as big as my own head, and was shaped like a space-craft—what I’ve heard of them. You know, rounded and flattish. That’s how it got under my skin like that. It felt bulky, made movement difficult, but I couldn’t get it off—my legs couldn’t reach back there. I’m sure it started sucking my blood, I felt it, and I started to feel woozy. It was there for a few days before it actually jumped off me and went into one of the nursery rooms in the block, one of the rooms where the young ones are raised. I couldn’t find which one—I told one of the nurses what I’d seen, and she went off to look for it. No luck. It had disappeared. But I knew it had left a time bomb in the nursery block, I knew it, but there was no way I could prove it.

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