Bees http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz Books for Children Sun, 19 Oct 2014 06:19:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 In Zuzz with Seuss http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/in-zuzz-with-seuss/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/in-zuzz-with-seuss/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 23:13:26 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=3498 It was 1963, and I was terrified on my first day at school (primary!). I sat on the hard grey mat and the teacher read Horton Hatches the Egg to the class. I became so engrossed I didn’t even notice my mother slip out. That loyal elephant helped me get through that watershed day without too many waterworks. My other favourite Seuss characters were the Pale Green Pants and the Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz.  Seuss pushed the English language to the limit. Ever wonder why Green Eggs and Ham is so repetitive? Seuss only had a 50 word vocabulary list to work with, but he created a classic. By the way writers, his first book was rejected 27 times.

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How Bees See Us http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/how-bees-see-us/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/how-bees-see-us/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 03:24:37 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=8296

The honey bees’ ability to learn faces is unexpected. – ‘Good With Faces’, Scientific American

When I first started beekeeping, older beekeepers often said their bees recognised them – now we have proof it’s true. Honey bees’ brains are the size of a sesame seed with only a million neurons (we have 100 billion), but bees can learn patterns, navigate, communicate, count, tell time, measure, and memorize. Research now shows they can also recognise human faces. Bees were trained (with a sugar water reward) to identify a human face, front and side view – and after training they could instantly identify the same face rotated 30˚. Honey bees do not have distinctive facial markings, so why have they evolved this ability? It’s due to their pattern-recognition skills but I wonder if it also evolved as bees formed a close relationship with humans over the last 20,000 years. Here’s how I might look to a bee with it’s many-faceted compound eyes:

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The life of the bee is like a magic well: the more we draw from it, the more there is to draw.’ — Karl von Frisch

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Sculpture At Play http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/sculpture-at-play/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/sculpture-at-play/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 19:29:49 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=8287 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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The Forces of Writing http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/the-edge-of-physics/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/the-edge-of-physics/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 20:00:35 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=2393 Writing requires four fundamental steps:

Imagine: ‘Open your mind’ (P.D. James)

Write: ‘Put one word after another’ (Neil Gaiman)

Edit: ‘Omit needless words’ (William Strunk)

Hope: ‘Outrun the self-doubt’ (Stephen King)

The steps of writing harmonise nicely with the four forces of physics:

Electromagnetism holds our atoms and molecules together, and like imagination, it has infinite range.

The Weak Force is confined to the centre of atoms, as a writer must be confined with a story until it’s drafted.

The Strong Force holds atomic nuclei together, as editing gives the story strength.

Gravity is like hope, in that it keeps us anchored and has infinite range.

Read my essay, The Science of Writing.

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Plan Bee http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/plan-bee/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/plan-bee/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 19:21:14 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=8200 HoneyBeeCoverAll royalties from my ebook, Honey Bees, are donated to Oxfam, funding projects such as ‘Plan Bee’ which teaches beekeeping to women in Ethiopia. The Plan Bee project enables an extra 4,400 women beekeepers to increase production by using modern beekeeping methods and equipment, and so earn a living for their families. Read more about Plan Bee.

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Photo: Wubalem Shiferaw, beekeeper, Ethiopia (courtesy Oxfam).

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Origin of Bees http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/origin-of-bees/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/origin-of-bees/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 23:33:55 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=8253 New genetic research suggests honey bees originated in Asia not Africa as previously thought. Bees have been around for a while: the oldest known bee is a 100 million year old bee suspended in a piece of amber (a tree resin), found in Myanmar (Burma). Ancient bees lived in trees or on cliffs – honey bees derived from cavity-nesting bees that spread out from Asia about 300,000 years ago. People discovered honey about 20,000 years ago; it must’ve seemed like a magical food in their diet of wild animals and plants. Early honey hunting was a dangerous job because bees lived in tall trees or on cliff faces. Cave paintings show hunters climbing cliffs to raid nests – imagine dangling from a vine, 150 metres up a cliff, while being stung by bees! People still do this kind of honey hunting today in India, Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Image: Rock painting of a honey hunter in Valencia, Spain (6000 to 8000BC)

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5 Books I Will Never Throw Out http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/5-books-i-will-never-throw-out/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/5-books-i-will-never-throw-out/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 04:50:59 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=5626 Twenty-Three Tales by Tolstoy

There is only one time that is important – Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.

Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson

Moominpappa had no idea what to do with himself, because it seemed everything there was to be done had already been done.

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A Moment of War by Laurie Lee

  I was in that flush of youth that never doubts self-survival, that idiot belief in luck and a uniquely charmed life, without which illusion few wars would be possible.

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Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

 I wouldn’t have said off-hand that I had a subconscious mind, but I suppose I must without knowing it, and no doubt it was there, sweating away diligently at the old stand, all the while the corporeal Wooster was getting his eight hours.

The Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury

And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

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]]> http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/5-books-i-will-never-throw-out/feed/ 2 200 Years of Grimm http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/200-years-of-grimm/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/200-years-of-grimm/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 20:30:33 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=4728

Everything in the tales appears to happen by chance – and this has the strange effect of making it appear that nothing happens by chance, that everything is fated. – A. S. Byatt

One of the appeals of the 200 year old tales of the Brothers’ Grimm is how random events seem connected; as A. S. Byatt says in her excellent essay (online here). They are stories of generic princesses, simpletons, brothers and sisters who meet with good or bad ‘luck’ on their quest, yet are bound by the rules of the fairy tale world – a kind of guided randomness, but usually with a happy ending. Perhaps this is the way children see the world: capricious, a little scary, but ultimately, a hopeful place.

When I was a child I loved how the Grimm’s characters met the forces of their fickle, often gruesome, world with kindness and cunning. I’d lay in bed and listen to Danny Kaye’s brilliant reading of Clever Gretel on Sunday morning radio. The illustration above is by the great Arthur Rackham (more Grimm illustrations here).

Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.– G.K. Chesterton

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A Wonder Book http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/stewy-stinker-turns-70/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/stewy-stinker-turns-70/#comments Sat, 23 Aug 2014 22:00:45 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=3511 The classic picture book Calico the Wonder Horse — The Saga of Stewy Stinker by Virgina Lee Burton was published in 1941. I adored this comic-book style cowboy adventure as a child mainly because of the bad guy. Stewy Stinker is so low he steals Christmas presents from children but in the end he repents. This picture of him crying out his rottenness always made me feel sorry for him:

The word ‘Stinker’ was censored from the book in the 1940s as it was considered inappropriate for children. Burton was one of the great illustrators and the idea for Calico from seeing her sons engrossed with comic books. The wonderful design, cartoon framing and action scenes of Calico are worthy of a modern graphic comic: the flash flood and stagecoach crash are gripping highlights. But it’s that haunting image of Stewy that will stay with me.

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Science and Soul http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/science-and-soul/ http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/science-and-soul/#comments Sat, 09 Aug 2014 20:18:31 +0000 http://www.raymondhuber.co.nz/?p=8177 Does the universe have a purpose or is it an accident? Scientists have divergent views on the significance of the universe. At one end of the spectrum is the iconoclast, Richard Dawkins, who sees an indifferent universe which has “precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom no design, no purpose.” At the other end is biologist Jane Goodall who believes the universe is both purposeful and meaningful. In between there are theories ranging from a ‘conscious universe’ to a ‘self-creating universe’. Whatever their beliefs, at least there’s usually a shared sense of wonder among scientists…

…Read the rest of my essay, Science and Soul, here.

puppisPhoto: The remnants of supernova explosions, Puppis and Vela, birthplace of some of our atoms. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

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