1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Friday, May 14, 2010

NN/SOTS: Colony Collapse Disorder--'Bee' Enlightened Before You 'Make Your Garden Rich in Gillyvors'

This time of year calls for a bit of shearing--deadheading--to keep some blooms in my garden blooming for a while longer. These beauties waiting to be shorn of their spent blossoms are Dianthus or what Shakespeare knew as carnations, gillyflowers, or gillyvors. So, I got to thinking about another shearing--of sheep in this case--that takes place in a land called Bohemia. One character stands out in this pastoral scene with her steadfast attitude about allowing hybrids into her garden. Why, though? What could be so disastrous about allowing plants that have been hybridized into the mix? Perdita, the stand-out gardener, whose name means "lost," can't bear the thought of allowing anything but the art-less flowers that appear naturally each growing season.

Perdita: Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer's death nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest flow'rs o' th' season
Are our carnations and streaked gillyvors,
Which some call nature's bastards. Of that kind
Our rustic garden's barren, and I care not
To get slips of them.

Polixenes: Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?

Perdita: For I have heard it said
There is an art which in their piedness shares
With great creating nature.

Polixenes: Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean. So over that art
Which you say adds to nature is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race. This is an art
Which does mend nature--change it, rather--but
The art itself is nature.

Perdita: So it is.

Polixenes: Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.

Perdita: I'll not put
The dibble in earth to set one slip of them,
No more than, were I painted, I would wish
This youth should say 'twere well, and only therefore
Desire to breed by me...

(The Winter's Tale, Act 4, Scene 4, Lines 79-103)

A swallowtail butterfly (Palamedes, maybe?) on thistle, Cirsium horridulum, seen at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on May 9, 2010

No one really knows why honeybees have been disappearing in such large numbers over the last several years. Scientists think that a combination of factors are contributing to the decline. Researchers all over the world are studying this phenomenon because the possible outcome could be significant--a worldwide shortage of food. I asked a beekeeper and honey merchant at the Lumberjack Festival a couple of months ago what the latest word is on the disorder. He said he is studying up to be an expert, certified apiarist but hadn't heard anything new coming down the pike. I found out that the majority of his business comes from transporting his hives to fields and groves where there is a shortage of bees and a surplus of plants and trees in desperate need of pollination. Selling the honey is a way for him to make extra income and to educate people about bees and their habits. He also told us to be wary of honey sold in most outlets because it more than likely is "cut" with corn syrup to make it go further. It tastes similar and doesn't look much different, unless you've tasted the real stuff and can differentiate between what's real and its facsimile. A shortage of honey would seem logical considering the shortage of bees. But why is there a decline? Could the bees be confused--upset--by the displacement of Perdita's faves with those "streaked gillyvors"? Presumably, the bees can tell the difference between original, "rustic garden" flowers and the hybrids that have gradually stolen their scene. I wish someone would figure out what's happening to the bees and find a way to help them negotiate this thorny situation.

Prickly pear, Opuntia humifusa, blossom seen at St. Marks NWR, 5/9/2010

A little more light--maybe some funding too--on the situation might help us understand what we as a species are doing to this old planet, right or wrong, and put to shame--where they belong--those doomsayers' predictions that the world is going to end in 2012 or anytime soon.

Lighthouse at St. Marks. Guess who took me there on Mother's Day, 2010, after a great lunch out, just the two of us? I could get used to this new-to-me part of Florida.

For this week's Nature Notes/Signs of the Season post and links to other bloggers' observations about nature, please visit and leave a comment there too. Michelle would appreciate it. We all do.


  1. I love the Big Bend of Florida. On my bucket list is visiting all the lighthouses in Florida.

  2. We love that Sty. Marks Refuge area! We visited there when we stayed in Wakulla State Park. Lovely.

    Seems there are loads of other types of bees here, I wouldn't know about the honey bee specifically, but yes, it would be so nice to really know what is going on there and how to help.

    Are those Dianthus in your yard? They are so sweet!!!

  3. Sorry...sloppy typing...I meant to type "St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge", rather than what came out!!! :)

  4. What a great nature notes post. I enjoyed the scene from "The Winter's Tale" and although I've read as well as seen the play, I didn't remember much of it. I love reading it in the context of nature notes. Lovely shots and interesting information from the beekeeper. I didn't realize that honey is often cut in outlets. I shouldn't be surprised though. I liked all your shots and the lighthouse is a beauty.

  5. Nice post! Fun to read and educational to boot. I too hope they solve the mystery of the disappearing bees, though I confess to being a planter of hybrids.

  6. You've posted another winner! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it this evening, even the Shakespeare! Your lighthouse photo is yummy! Such a serene and peaceful shot. Glad you had a nice Mother's Day! I'm disappointed there is still no clue about the honeybees. How industrious of that fellow to have portable hives! ~karen

  7. I'm taking notes so when we do our second ever trip to Florida next March I'll have some new nature areas to vist. I can't wait!

  8. You always give us food for thought with such interesting posts. The Perdita tale is quite interesting to me. I put all sorts of things in my garden and there is no shortage of bees here, both honey bees and native bees. In other words I've never been a purist. However, I do hope the bee quandary is worked out. Glad you had a super Mother's Day on the beach.

  9. I didn't realize there were hybrids back in Shakespeare's time! And thanks for the information on gillyflowers--I always wondered what those were.

    There is never a shortage of bees in my garden--and they seem to like the hybrids just as well--which makes me feel reassured because we're surrounded by corn and soybean fields that I know are sprayed with pesticides. The University of Illinois has a great entomology department and has done a lot of research on bees. I don't think anyone has come up with an answer yet to explain the Colony Collapse Disorder. But the good news is that I think more and more people are becoming aware of how essential bees are to our survival.

  10. excellent post, its tragic what's happenign to the bees...

  11. Another great post..I am on a list about pollinators and I thought I read that it was a combination of factors..pesticides and a particular kind of mite..I will have to go and look it up again...Lovely how you weave your magic....Michelle

  12. nice blog.. have a view of my blog when free.. .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

  13. Somebody is going to have to figure this thing out with the bees once and for all. The hybrid thing isn't that out of whack - our bodies can't properly identify fake sugar...

    And thanks for a literary Nature Notes.

  14. I've heard scientists put forth some pretty far out theories on the disappearing honeybees. I hope they find the cause and can correct it.

    Thanks for the letting us know what a gillyflower was. I was way wrong on that one:)

  15. Whoa! Now I need to play catch-up since I took the weekend off from blogging.

    FB, I'm with you on wishing for the lighthouse visits, only my list is a lot longer than just the ones in Florida. They're fascinating places.

    Julie, I see more bumbles than honeybees here. I know they're both pollinators, but I sure would miss that honey (the real stuff) if the honeybee population were to shrink away even more. Yes, the Dianthus are mine. I usually plant them in the fall, and some of the cultivars last a couple of years or more in my flower beds.

    Thanks, Carver! Some people think that The Winter's Tale is too "dark" to be considered a comedy, but it's not exactly a tragedy either. I guess that's why I like it so well, and the gardening references pique my interest too.

    MM, I'm partial to hybrids myself but have to wonder sometimes if they're the best choice for the environment. Obviously, people in Shakespeare's time also had questions and different opinions about their use or overuse. Things really don't change much over time.

    Thank you, Karen. It felt weird to celebrate Mother's Day without the kids or grandson around, but the visit to the refuge and time spent with hubby were great consolation.

    TB, if you plan on visitng sites as far west as the refuge, let me know, and maybe we can all meet somewhere. It's not more than an hour from where we will be living in Tallahassee.

    Tina, I'm not a purist either. You know how I love my Knockouts! I am going to try some plants that honeybees favor here and see if I can't help at least attract more of them to the yard.

    Rose, I didn't know about the hybrids in Shakespeare's time either until I started studying the play. I love the female characters in it. They're powerful forces for good, survivors, and help the male characters see the errors of their ways:) The University of Florida has been studying the bee problem for quite a while and working on different theories. You know how important agriculture is to the state's economy. Tourism may be #1 in most people's minds, but agriculture isn't quite second fiddle.

    Thanks, CGP! Let's hope things turn around for the bees' sake as well as our own.

    You're right, Michelle, and thanks. It is a combination of factors possibly responsible for the decline, which is what makes it so difficult to remedy the situation. I'm going to learn as much as I can to help in some small way.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Mr. Lonely. I will check out your site as soon as I get a chance.

    A Piece of News, I'm not sure about hybrids contributing to the problem, but there are opinions on both sides just like in Shakespeare's time. It's only fair to consider both of them and the ones in between. I guess I take the middle course for now. You know, after tasting the honey available at the festival, I don't think I want to buy the cheaper stuff from the store anymore. Thanks for commenting.

  16. a mass of honey bees descended onto our campus the other day. I missed it ;'( but was glad to hear about it. Theory is a upstart queen took off and brought a gaggle of adorers

  17. I'm pretty sure my honey I purchase here is 100%, and we do have a Bee Farm not too far from where we live, but thanks for the heads up, I would never imagine they would add the corn syrup. It makes sense though, just like everything else in the world being substituted. I did see three beautiful huge bumble bees the other day, does that count? But I do wonder the same things about our precious bees.
    I loved all your photo's and all your words of wisdom. I especially loved the Up-Hill Poem. I stayed in Tallahassee for three weeks one time and just loved it.
    I'm glad you left the bar while waiting for your Margarita while the bartender's mind was elsewhere. That would never happen here.
    So sorry to hear about Rocky. We get so attached and close to them, it's hard when they have to leave us. I believe I have walked halfway around the planet too with my Bentley. I miss him terribly.

  18. Your Nature Notes column this week is outstanding. I am loving catching up on your words and photos. (I could get used to walking around the St. Marks Lighthouse, too -- what a lovely spot in the world.)