The economic importance of bees is significantly undervalued, according to a European study released this week.
Strawberries pollinated by bees were of far higher commercial value than fruit that was self-pollinated or pollinated by the wind, researchers in Germany reported Wednesday.
Bee pollination strongly increased the commercial value of strawberries by producing well-shaped fruit of increased weight, according to the study.
In addition, it increased shelf life, enhanced coloring and lowered sugar-acid ratios of most varieties of strawberries.
The study, by a team at the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Göttingen in Germany, comes on the heels of a 2011 report by the UN Environment Program that showed that pollination by bees and other insects contributed about a little more than $204 billion, or 9.5 percent, of the total global value of food production.
But the most recent analysis offers evidence that the 2011 estimate could have substantially devalued the agricultural impact of the bees.
The Germany team conducted its study by planting nine commercial strawberry varieties in an experimental field. Plants were either covered with special gauze bags to allow pollination by the wind or other parts of the plant, or were left open for visiting by bees.
A Florida fisherman recently reeled in a 14-foot stingray so old it had barnacles on it.
The 800-pound behemoth was snared in the waters off Miami Beach and was initially touted as a hookskate, a little-known deep-water skate that inhabits depths of between 1,000-3,000 feet.
Captain Mark Quartiano, a charter boat operator, posted a picture of the catch over the weekend.
“I’ve caught one like it before, but never that size, not in the last 30 years I’ve been doing this,” Quartiano told ABC News. “It’s a very rare fish. It’s like a big gigantic whipping stingray. It’s a dinosaur.
“It was very old. It had barnacles all over it,” added Quartiano, who caught the stingray while shooting a series of TV shows for a Japanese network.
He released the fish shortly after tagging it.
Anyone who questions the brutal nature of medieval warfare need only read The Economist’s description of the fate of a Lancastrian soldier killed at the Battle of Towton during England’s bloody War of the Roses:
The soldier now known as Towton 25 had survived battle before. A healed skull fracture points to previous engagements. He was old enough – somewhere between 36 and 45 when he died – to have gained plenty of experience of fighting. But on March 29th 1461, his luck ran out.
Towton 25 suffered eight wounds to his head that day. The precise order can be worked out from the direction of fractures on his skull: when bone breaks, the cracks veer towards existing areas of weakness. The first five blows were delivered by a bladed weapon to the left-hand side of his head, presumably by a right-handed opponent standing in front of him. None is likely to have been lethal.
The next one almost certainly was. From behind him someone swung a blade towards his skull, carving a down-to-up trajectory through the air. The blow opened a huge horizontal gash into the back of his head – picture a slit you could post an envelope through. Fractures raced down to the base of his skull and around the sides of his head. Fragments of bone were forced in to Towton 25′s brain, felling him.
His enemies were not done yet. Another small blow to the right and back of the head may have been enough to turn him over onto his back. Finally another blade arced towards him. This one bisected his face, opening a crevice that ran from his left eye to his right jaw. It cut deep: the edge of the blade reached to the back of his throat.
Though relatively unknown today, the Battle of Towton has been described as “probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil.”
A recent drive through rural South Carolina shows evidence of a healthy cotton crop, albeit one that was late to mature.
Cotton pickers and module builders are just now ramping up in the Carolinas, Georgia and many other parts of the Deep South, the result of a growing season slowed by unusually large amounts of rain this year.
Much of South Carolina, for example, has received 50 or more inches of rain in 2013, anywhere from 8 to 18 inches above average precipitation levels. The same appears to be the case across the region.
In years past, lack of rain has been an issue for cotton farmers, particularly in Texas, a major cotton-growing area, so why is excessive rain an issue?
It’s a factor for several reasons, according to Mark Crosby, Emanuel County (Ga.) extension coordinator:
Heavy rainfall caused excessive erosion on sloping fields and in places in fields where the water puddled, the cotton plants stood in water. The worst fields had areas where the cotton drowned, but, in much of the cotton land, the plants stood in soggy, wet soil for weeks and weeks.
Examination of the crop roots showed very little tap root development and shallow feeder roots. Shallow feeder and tap roots limited the plants ability to take up fertilizer because of a lack of oxygen in the soil.
As soils become more and more saturated and eventually became waterlogged, the effects on cotton plants included yellowing, reduced shoot growth, reduced nutrient uptake, altered hormone levels, and other problems. Some fields of cotton had symptoms of reddening leaves and stems being too wet, as well as typical nitrogen deficiency symptoms.
A South Carolina businessman recently donated one of the most impressive private fossil collections in the world – totaling more than 1,500 specimens – to the College of Charleston.
Mace Brown of Mt. Pleasant, SC, began collecting fossils when he was in his early teens; today his collection, valued at more than $1.6 million, includes complete skeletons of such creatures as a giant armadillo, a cave bear and a saber-toothed cat, along with Tyrannosaurus rex teeth and Triceratops horns.
The collection focuses on North American land and sea creatures. More than 90 percent of the fossilized creatures in the collection inhabited South Carolina over a 400-million-year span, according to a College of Charleston press release.
“I wanted the collection to be in Charleston, in a location where fossils were the focus and a place where the public could see the specimens up close, not stored in cabinets out of the sight of the public,” said Brown, renown as an international fossil collector.
Brown’s passion for collecting and recording fossils was sparked by a rock collection when he was 13. By age 45, he had amassed more than 87 species of shark teeth.
Over the next decade and a half, Brown expanded his collection with fossils from around the world.
The collection, which will be housed in the Mace Brown Natural History Museum at the College of Charleston, also features saltwater mosasaurs with snakelike detaching jaws; skeletons of a warthog-looking, buffalo-sized pig; and a dog-sized horse and camel.
The Rybinsk State History, Architecture and Art Museum-Preserve, founded in 1910, remains one of Russia’s premier museums, dating back to 1910.
The museum, located in the Upper Volga region of Russia along the Volga River, houses more than 120,000 items, including a good bit of foreign art.
Rybinsk, which was called Andropov for a short time in the 1980s after former Soviet Union General Secretary of the Communist Party Yuri Andropov, dates back nearly 1,000 year and is the second-largest city in Russia’s Yaroslavl Oblast, lying at the confluence of the Volga and Sheksna rivers.
The museum’s collection consists of items from the estates of country noble family, old museums of the Yaroslavl region and gifts from scientists.
Among museum highlights are exhibits that includes a gallery of paintings from paintings that range from the 17th to the 20th century, country estate icons from the 16th through the 19th centuries and portrait galleries of famous Rybinsk families.
Numerous foreign artists from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and France are represented in the museum’s collection.
The Rybinsk museum’s exhibits aren’t limited to art, either. There is section dedicated to the nature of Rybinsk region that includes stuffed bear, lynx, fox and wild boar.
There is also a hall of archeology that includes remains of ancient animals and the remains of ancient area Slavic settlements and a section devoted to the history and development of the town in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The burgeoning US-China agriculture-trade relationship was evident late last week when the first-ever bulk shipment of American grain sorghum reached the Asian nation.
The 2.36 million bushel shipment, the first of several scheduled for China this year, reached the port city of Guangzhou, the south China city historically known as Canton, on Oct. 18.
The cargo is designated for animal feed and demonstrates the continued modernization of China’s feed industry, according to Bryan Lohmar, US Grains Council director in China.
“The Council believes US sorghum has significant potential to become a regular feed ingredient in China,” he said. “Sorghum imports from the United States can help keep food prices low and improve China’s overall food security.”
Sorghum, a grain, is among the most efficient crops in conversion of solar energy and use of water. It is known as a high-energy, drought tolerant crop, according to the National Sorghum Producers.
Sorghum was planted on approximately 6.2 million US acres in 2012, with Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and South Dakota the top five-Sorghum producing states.
An elaborate Renaissance altarpiece that has transfixed churchgoers and art lovers alike for centuries is undergoing its most ambitious restoration in its nearly 600-year history.
Flemish masterpiece “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,” also known as the Ghent Altarpiece, is the work of masters Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. A $1.6 million, five-year project to restore it is unusual in that it taking place in full public view at the Ghent Fine Arts Museum.
Made of 12 oak panels painted on both sides, the 11-foot-by-15-foot work has attracted attention since its unveiling, though not all of it good.
During the Reformation, Protestants attacked Ghent in the 16th century and the altarpiece was hauled up to safety in the cathedral tower.
Following the French Revolution, the altarpiece was among a number of art works plundered in today’s Belgium and was later exhibited at the Louvre. Those panels seized by the French were returned to the church by the Duke of Wellington after his victory at Waterloo against Napoleon in 1815, according to Agence France-Presse.
Several of the painting’s wings were sold in 1816 to an English collector living in Berlin, Edward Solly. Among panels not sold was one with Adam and another with Eve, which were the first known nudes in Flemish art.
Solly’s panels were bought in 1821 by the King of Prussia, Frederick William III, and were displayed in a Berlin art museum.
The practice of counterfeiting money is as old as money itself.
Archaeologists have discovered counterfeit examples of coins produced in Lydia, a Roman province said to be the locale of the first metallic coinage, dating back to the 7th century BC.
Today, we tend to think of counterfeiters as individuals who mass produce paper money, usually in large denominations – $20 or higher.
But until relatively recently, nearly all counterfeit money came in coin form. This was because until relatively recently nearly all money came in coin form, and was known as “hard money” because it contained a commodity such as gold or silver which gave it intrinsic value.
A short 1884 article in the New York Times highlighted just how valuable even small coins – albeit those made of silver – were 130 years ago.
MARLBOROUGH, N.Y. – Counterfeit silver dollars, quarters and ten-cent pieces are being circulated in a number of the Hudson River counties. The quarter dollars and dimes are said to be very good imitations of genuine money. It is said that ticket agents on the line of the Hudson River Railroad have been told to scrutinize carefully all silver offered in payment for tickets. It is believed that the counterfeits were first put in circulation about three weeks ago.
Today it seems difficult to imagine someone going to the difficulty of attempting to counterfeit a dime, never mind working hard enough at it to do it well.