Al Batt: No bees were harmed when motorist takes colony’s queen for a ride

Published 9:00 am Saturday, September 23, 2017

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. My garden did well this year. If tomatoes could vote, I’d be elected to something. My cousin Chucky is staying with me for a few days. He’s not a morning person. Chucky doesn’t like mornings or people.”

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“What does he do for a living?” I say.

“He raises four-legged chickens.”

“What does he do with them?” I ask.

“I don’t know. He’s never caught one.”


I watched the goldfinches at the feeders. When they weren’t eating, they were singing. Their joyful songs were captivating.

I like Vivaldi’s music, too. I like it because it makes me happy.

Vivaldi named his 1729 flute concerto for a bird, the goldfinch — the European goldfinch.

The cheery sounds of the American goldfinch make me happy, too.

The blue jays were flying over a parked car, a Suzuki.

One must have said, “I think I’ll put down a deposit on that car.”

The other blue jays in the flock began making calls that sounded as if they were saying, “Do it!”

I watched a millipede walk down the sidewalk on its 160 legs. Insects have six legs and spiders have eight legs. Sometimes in basements I see sow bugs and pill bugs. They are crustaceans, related to lobsters, shrimp and crayfish. Sow bugs and pill bugs have seven pairs of legs. They are similar in appearance. Pill bugs (roly-polies) look like miniature armadillos and roll up into a ball when disturbed. If it doesn’t roll into a ball, it’s a sow bug. In Europe, they are called wood lice.

Mahoney State Park

I gave a number of talks at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, located halfway between Omaha and Lincoln. It’s a place that makes roughing it easy.

The 700-acre park has an aquatic center, indoor playground, hiking and biking trails, an observation tower for climbing that gives breathtaking looks at the Platte River valley, sledding, ice skating, restaurant, lodge, arts and crafts center, boating, tennis, volleyball, swimming, driving range, miniature golf course, cabins, camping, lakes, fishing, softball, horseback trail rides, basketball, hiking, conservatory, Indian burial grounds, toboggan runs, ice fishing, ice skating and theater. Located just off I-80, Mahoney’s more than 1 million annual visitors place the park behind only Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium as Nebraska’s top tourist attractions.

Taking a swarm of bees for a ride

The woman parked her Mitsubishi in the town of Haverfordwest, Wales. While she shopped, a swarm of 20,000 bees was drawn to her car. A local man saw the swarm and called some beekeepers.

The next day the woman realized that some of the bees had followed her home. It was believed that the queen bee had been attracted to something inside the car and had found an entrance. Her subjects were loyal, as were the beekeepers that saved both the bees and the Mitsubishi without harm.

Toad Hall

I was dragging a wheeled suitcase and wearing a backpack as I walked to the front door of a hotel where I’d be spending the night. I applied the brakes on my battered sandals.

There was a large American toad just ahead of me. I like toads. Perhaps I was staying at Toad Hall. Mr. Toad of Toad Hall is one of the main characters in the novel “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. The hotel’s door sensed my presence and opened. The toad hopped in. I dumped my baggage and grabbed the toad, but not without a short chase. I carried him outside and found a spot that seemed as if it would be good for a toad. Then I unfurrowed my brow and checked into the hotel.


“Are there vultures on every continent?” Vultures are found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

“Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?” Scientifically speaking, a tomato is a fruit. Fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower and contain the seeds of the plant (although cultivated forms may be seedless). A tomato is technically the fruit of the tomato plant, but it’s used as a vegetable in cooking. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting tomatoes in a fruit salad.

“Do birds pollinate plants?” Yes. Ornithophily is the pollination of flowering plants by birds. Hummingbirds are a prime example.

Thanks for stopping by

“Nature unites us. You do not need to be a hiker, paddler, angler or hunter to appreciate the natural world. All you have to do is eat, drink and breathe.” — David Phemister

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein   

Do good.

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at