How to “BEE” Kind to Bees.

For thousands of years, honeybees have transformed flower nectar into that wonderful sweetness called honey.  Not only is honey a delicious treat in recipes or to sweeten a cup of tea, it has many medicinal properties as well.  Due to its sterile qualities, doctors used it as wound dressings during the civil war.

honey bee

Honeybees are important in another crucial way – as pollinators of our food supply.  The USDA estimates that “about one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honeybee pollination”.  Some crops, such as almonds, rely completely upon honeybees for propagation.

So what, you might ask?  Honeybee populations are dwindling worldwide from a combination of factors that contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder. This happens when worker bees leave behind a colony with only a queen and a few immature bees, resulting in death of the colony. Currently the main factors are thought to be: viruses, parasites, management stressors, migratory stress and pesticides.  To view a film on CCD: http://www.vanishingbees.com

Honeybees are one of many indicators of a healthy environment.  A disturbance in their life cycle, could be a symptom of larger issues.           

HOW CAN WE HELP?

  1. Buy organic to help reduce pesticide use.  Refrain from use of pesticides in your own yard and garden.
  2. Plant pollinator-friendly plants such as bee balm and red clover.
  3. Buy local and single producer honey to support small scale bee keepers in your own community.
  4. Enjoy the wonderful taste of local honey in your own recipes.
  5. Give bees a place to stay. You can find “bee hive kits” like the one pictured below in any garden center. Mason bees will use the cavities to lay their eggs and emerging bees will visit your garden.

bee hive

BEE KIND TO BEES…Our Food Supply Depends on it!

Want Clean Beaches? How You Can Help.

Clean Beaches Week is the “Earth Day” for beaches. 

Held annually from July 1-7, it is a celebration of the clean beaches lifestyle.  Founded in 2003, the week has drawn enormous public support: over 150 coastal governors, mayors, and county commissions have now issued proclamations in support of the week.  In 2007, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions enacting the week by unanimous consent.

Beaches, provide recreation, supply us with a variety of delicious and nutritious food. They need our protection. You can celebrate CLEAN BEACHES WEEK by

Show beaches the love they deserve. beach

While you get ready for a day at the beach, here are some books to get kids excited about the day.

Beach Day cover jpeg

Become a Naturalist

Ah Summer! There is so much about this time of year that brings out poetry, curiosity and a sense that anything is possible. When the kids get restless and itchy, take a break from video games and household routines and explore the natural world. To make it a more interesting adventure, become Naturalists and record the days observations and sightings. You can do this and still be faithful to social distancing and keeping one another safe. All you need is the following, all of which will fit in a backpack:

1. A pair of binoculars for zooming in on birds or other elusive wildlife. A magnifying glass for closeups of insects and plant life.

2. A Field Guide of insects and birds of North America.  There are many excellent ones you can borrow from a local library or download onto your Kindle or iphone. You can track and input what birds you see on Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology.   http://www.birds.cornell.edu  or by downloading the eBird app. 

3. A journal or notebook will help you record sights, sounds, names of animals and plants you discover, and details to use in writing a story or drawing a picture when you get back home.

4. A camera.

5. Comfortable shoes, water, snacks.

TallTreesLittleKids

Try an outing at different times of day. What is awake in the early morning hours may be totally different from what is active mid day or at sunset. If you’re having difficulty finding “critters”, be still and listen to the sounds of nature. This stillness often leads to amazing discoveries. It will definitely bring you peace and calm your stress. If you’re near water, turn over some rocks at the water’s edge. There are many hatching insects under them to marvel at.

And, like every good naturalist, remember to leave only footprints, and take only pictures and memories, and bring back any trash left behind by the human animal, so we can enjoy the natural world for years to come. footprints

Give Your Backyard Critters, and the Earth’s Creatures Some TLC.

We are ALL interconnected and part of the chain that feeds and sustains life on earth. Wondering how you can help protect the most vulnerable critters on our planet? There are FIVE simple things all of us can do to help make a difference for the creatures who share the earth with us. 

1. Bee populations are disappearing, which effects food crops around the world. Help LOCAL HIVES by adding a “bee bath” to your backyard. Fill a shallow dish or birdbath with water and pebbles or marbles to welcome these pollinators into your garden.

bee

2. You can help protect CORAL REEFS by replacing your regular sunscreen for one that does not contain OXYBENZONE. This ingredient damages the delicate reefs.

3. I’ve mentioned this one on numerous posts: FEED MONARCH BUTTERFLIES by planting MILKWEED in your garden. This is the only plant these endangered creatures lay their eggs on and the caterpillars eat. You can get get milkweed seeds in your local National Wildlife Federation office.  http://www.nationalwildlifefederation.org

milkweed

Milkweed from my garden. Bonus: it also attracts bees.

4. Eat seafood that is sustainably caught and protect whales and dolphins from getting trapped in fishing nets. Download the Seafood Watch app to identify businesses that serve and sell sustainably sourced seafood.

5. Help the endangered Sumatran tiger from losing its habitat to coffee growers. Make sure your brew is Rainforest Alliance certified. This means the beans are grown  and harvested in a sustainable, animal-friendly way.

Author Annette Whipple Presents: RIBBIT: THE TRUTH ABOUT FROGS.

Ribbit Cover

Did you know there are more than 7,000 kinds of frogs worldwide? Ever wonder why frogs blink their eyes so much? Blinking helps them swallow. The eyes help push food down into the stomach. Unique and interesting details like this have become a trademark for Annette Whipple’s books in THE TRUTH ABOUT series.

This newest entry, RIBBIT: THE TRUTH ABOUT FROGS (Reycraft Publishing) follows the Q & A format of previous books (WOOF: THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS, SCURRY: THE TRUTH ABOUT SPIDERS) and provides many fascinating and kid-friendly facts about these amazing amphibians.

Ribbit p 6-7

The book also includes a craft, glossary, and numerous photographs to complement the text. It is  a welcome addition to a classroom library and science resources.

You can order this awesome book here: https://www.amazon.com/Ribbit-Truth-About-Annette-Whipple/dp/1478875879/

About MeAnnette Whipple celebrates curiosity, especially through her informational books for children.
Annette Whipple
Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs (Reycraft Books, 2022)
Scurry! The Truth About Spiders (Reycraft Books, 2021) 
Woof! The Truth About Dogs (Reycraft Books, 2021)
Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls (Reycraft Books, 2020)
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press, 2020) 
The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press, 2020)

52 Ways to Celebrate the 52nd Earth Day.

Today is the 52nd Anniversary of the first Earth Day held in 1970. While the idea of and complex issues of Global Warming seem daunting, there are many ways to care for, celebrate, and honor our collective home, planet earth. Here are 50.

1. The single most important thing you can do is PLANT A TREE. If the world’s people planted 3 billion trees in all the available open spaces (not taking away any farmland), we would eliminate global warming. Learn more about tree planting in your community at  http://www.arborday.org

2. Make your garden POLLINATOR FRIENDLY by planting native bushes and flowering plants to attract bees, butterflies and insects. Find the right blooms for your yard at: http://www.xerces.org

3. Find out how you can help endangered species in your community: http://www.fws.gov/endangered

4. If you see litter, pick it up.

5-9. Collect rainwater for landscaping, compost vegetable scraps, plant a vegetable garden, buy organic, stop using pesticides on your lawn.   lids

10-14. Buy in bulk to use less packaging, stop using single-use plastic bags (reusable and machine-washable ones are available online. (see photo below)  I use them every time I go to the store. You can store the vegetables in them as well. Pack lunches in reusable containers, recycle as often and as much as you can, stop using plastic wrap for food storage. Check out the reusable silicon lids in 6 sizes to fit over every bowl you own. The number one recycler of plastic bags? http://www.trex.com/recycling  lists drop-off stations in your area.

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15. Find uses for old things.

16. Turn off lights when you leave a room.

17. Eat more veggies, especially those grown locally.

18. Get a library card.

19. Leave only footprints when you travel.

20-25. Wash clothes in cold water, don’t let the sink run when you brush teeth or wash dishes, turn off the dishwasher’s drying cycle and let them air dry, use concentrated soaps/cleaners that use less packaging,use unscented products, Use greener cleaners like baking soda and white vinegar.

26-30. Ride your bike, skip the elevator and take stairs, buy things that will last, try to fix things that break instead of tossing them, eat what’s in season.

31. Buy products made from recycled materials, and gently-used second hand clothing.

32. Use a push lawn mower.

33. Buy Fair Trade: http://www.fairtrade.org

34. Carpool

35-39. Unplug electronics when you aren’t using them, shut your computer down when you leave work, print on both sides of paper, reuse blank paper as scrap paper for notes, use shredded paper for packing instead of styrafoam peanuts.

40. When you finish baking, turn off the oven and leave oven door open to heat the home.

41. Eat sustainably harvested fish to protect the ocean : http://www.oceansalive.org

42-45. Give your car a tune-up so it drives more efficiently, drive a hybrid, keep tires inflated to proper pressure for better fuel efficiency, driving under 60MPH saves gas. Consider an electric vehicle.

46-47. Buy shade grown coffee, switch to reusable coffee filters.

48. Use rechargeable batteries.

49. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to eat local: visit  http://www.localharvest.com

50. Use cloth napkins and towels.

51. Switch to a search engine that plants trees. Ecosia plants a tree every time you search the web using it’s search engine: https://www.ecosia.org

52. HUG A TREE… these amazing plants are the reason we are alive on planet earth.

The earth is home for us all. Every little thing we do to honor our home counts.

Stay Safe and have a HAPPY EARTH DAY!

1, 2, 3, 5, 8…It’s Fibonacci Day! Here are Some Books to Help Celebrate.

Have you heard of the Fibonacci Sequence? It’s a number sequence that is based on adding the number that appears before it to get the next number in the sequence. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21…You probably already knew that. Did you know that there are  numerous examples of this sequence in nature? Today is Fibonacci Day and here are some kid-friendly books that honor the boy who discovered this sequence: Leonardo Fibonacci

BLOCKHEAD by Joseph D’Agnese

blockhead fibonacci cover

As a young boy in medieval Italy, Leonardo Fibonacci thought about numbers day and night. He was such a daydreamer that people called him a blockhead.

When Leonardo grew up and traveled the world, he was inspired by the numbers used in different countries. Then he realized that many things in nature, from the number of petals on a flower to the spiral of a nautilus shell, seem to follow a certain pattern. 

The boy who was once teased for being a blockhead had discovered what came to be known as the Fibonacci Sequence!
Blockhead is a 2011 Bank Street College — Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Blockhead has been translated into Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Catalan.  

 WILD FIBONACCI: Nature’s Secret Code Revealed: by Joy N Hulme illustrated by Carol Schwartz

wild Fibonacci cover

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34. . Look carefully. Do you see the pattern? Each number above is the sum of the two numbers before it. Though most of us are unfamiliar with it, this numerical series, called the Fibonacci sequence, is part of a code that can be found everywhere in nature. Count the petals on a flower or the peas in a peapod. The numbers are all part of the Fibonacci sequence.

In Wild Fibonacci, readers will discover this mysterious code in a special shape called an equiangular spiral. Why so special? It mysteriously appears in the natural world: a sundial shell curves to fit the spiral. So does a parrot’s beak. . . a hawk’s talon. . . a ram’s horn. . . even our own human teeth! Joy Hulme provides a clear and accessible introduction to the Fibonacci sequence and its presence in the animal world.

GROWING PATTERNS  by Sarah C Campbell (Author) Richard P Campbell (photographer)

patterns cover

An ALSC Notable Children’s Book

A wonderful introduction to one of the most beautiful connections between mathematics and the natural world–the Fibonacci sequence–through a series of stunning nature photographs.

Discover the biggest mathematical mystery in nature—Fibonacci numbers! Named after a famous mathematician, the number pattern is simple and starts with: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. Each number in the sequence comes from adding the two numbers before it. What’s the mystery? The pattern crops up in the most unexpected places. You’ll find it in the disk of a sunflower, the skin of a pineapple, and the spiral of a nautilus shell.

This book brings math alive, celebrates science, and will inspire kids to see nature through new eyes.

You and your kids can also celebrate the day by sorting coins, buttons, cheerios, macaroni, or other small objects into piles using the sequence. How far can you go?

Book Review: WHAT THE WORLD COULD MAKE by Holly McGhee, Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

I was the lucky winner of this book in a recent give-away on Kathy Temean’s blog Writing and Illustrating.

From the book jacket: Bunny and Rabbit are kindred spirits who celebrate the gifts of the seasons together―from the smell of lilacs to the wonder of ginkgo leaves, from the taste of sea pickles to the silent beauty of the first snowflakes melting against their warmth. What the World Could Make is a joyous reminder that if we pay attention, hope can always be found in our friendships, in nature, and in generosity toward one another.

Here is my review for this delightful story:  Two friends share the things they love about nature and the changing seasons in this tender and joyful celebration of the wonderful things the world has to offer. A hopeful story, simply and thoughtfully told. Delightful illustrations add a sense of wonder to the tale. 

One Small Thing You Can Do For Mother Earth.

As we transition from summer into fall, many of us plant bulbs, flowers, and tidy up our gardens. How about adding a tree seedling as well?

Trees are the “lungs” of the planet. If we want to breathe cleaner air, reduce global warming, and decrease our carbon footprint, the easiest and one of the most planet=friendly things you can do  is PLANT TREES. If you are in an area where there is no space for trees, consider supporting organizations that plant trees around the globe.

Check out the search engine ECOSIA: 80% of their advertising revenue goes to tree planting all over the world.  They’ve already planted more than 100 Million trees worldwide.

https://www.ecosia.org/?c=en 

You can also visit: http://www.TreeSisters.org 

This organization is a major INTERNATIONAL tree planting charity that has already planted more than 19 million trees in tropical areas of the world.

Image result for Treescapes. Size: 151 x 160. Source: www.pinterest.com

Here’s an interesting statistic regarding Global Warming: If worldwide we plant 3 billion trees in areas such as open fields, backyards, schoolyards, empty lots, etc, not touching agricultural areas used for food production, we would END Global Warming.

Three Billion might seem like a lot, but that’s less than one tree per person. Every tree counts and helps make our air cleaner and our environment healthier.

Is there a place in your yard, neighborhood, community that could be home to a tree? Please share this post.

Ever Hopeful…Monarch Butterfly Update.

After the horror of losing so many Monarch Butterflies in the chrysalis stage last year due to a fungus that attacked it, I was hopeful that this year we’d have a better outcome. We had 40+ milkweed plants in our garden beds. Butterflies came and laid eggs on many of them. I watched with joyful and cautious breath as caterpillars chomped on the leaves.

monarch caterpillar And then one morning I watched as a butterfly emerged from a chrysalis and landed on a flower, pumping it’s wings as it dried off.  butter

 

Hooray! It felt so good to see the process working.

 

Fast forward to two days later when we woke up to see this outside the window, in the same garden bed where the Monarch hatched:

A beautiful spider doing a not-so-beautiful-to-watch thing.

Sigh…nature does what nature does, but it sure is discouraging.

spider butterfly

But, the butterflies are still laying eggs and I just saw another caterpillar this morning.

So…I remain ever hopeful in the quest to help the Monarchs.