Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Adirondack Family Time: Adirondack Museum Opens May 27

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
One of our favorite spots, rain or shine, is the Adirondack Museum. This summer there is plenty of new as well as the familiar when opening day comes on May 27.

According to Marketing Associate Kate Moore, the Adirondack Museum will once again have plenty to entertain family and friends. One activity my family will look forward to is the “Camp Out for Families: An Overnight at the Museum.” From July 7-8 children (with adult chaperone) will explore exhibits by lantern, have dinner, participate in songs and stories by the campfire and sleep in the Woods and Waters exhibit.

“We have two new exhibits this season, The Adirondack World of A.F. Tait and Night Vision: The Wildlife Photography of Hobart V. Roberts that really showcase the region,” says Moore. “The ‘Adirondack World’ shows the region’s beauty as it pertains to the sportsman and wildlife. The second exhibit showcases the work of Hobart Roberts and his use of technology and science in the early 20th century. These early photographs made him one of the premier amateur wildlife photographers during that time.”

Moore says, “Familypalooza is one way we hope to introduce the to families and get them excited. There will be all sorts of activities like a bounce house, music show with Radio Disney, kayaking demonstrations, costumed animal characters, food vendors, face painting, and lots of arts and crafts.”

Moore also wants people to know there will be a scavenger hunt throughout the museum. How does the bounce house tie into the Adirondacks? It is a nod to the theme parks of the Adirondacks as well as a place to let the kids blow off steam. Moore reminds people that the Adirondack Museum is not a passive experience at all.

“We will have an exhibit that will include looking at art with children as well as labels targeted to children. We will also have artists-in-residence doing demonstrations and anyone can contribute to our collaborative landscape canvas. Please check out the website and click on events.”

Regular children’s program like feeding the fish, gazebo games, the Adirondack playground will continue all season as well as rustic games and crafts and The Reising Schoolhouse.

For year-round residents the pot just gets sweeter as the Adirondack Museum is opening its doors for free each Sunday during the months of June, July and August as well as any open days in May and October. There are requirements like proof of residency (driver’s license, passport or voter registration) required.

The museum is open 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., 7 days a week, including holidays, from May 27 through October 17, 2011. There will be an early closing on August 12, and adjusted hours on August 13; the museum will close for the day on September 9.

Adirondack Family Time tip: Don’t forget your ticket is good for a return trip if used within a week. Save your receipt and sign in at the admissions desk.

Wing Power” By Hobart V. Roberts, Courtesy of Adirondack Museum


Photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2009-2010 Fisheries Annual Report Released

The 2009-2010 Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Bureau of Fisheries Annual Report has been released [pdf].

The report features a compilation of highlights and accomplishments of activities and efforts carried out for the 2009-2010 fiscal year by DEC Bureau of Fisheries staff located in nine regional offices, two research stations, twelve fish hatcheries, one fish disease laboratory, as well as DEC’s Central Office in Albany.

The report provides summaries of fish culture and egg take outcomes, coldwater and warmwater fish research surveys, angler catch and effort reports, new public access site developments, habitat protection efforts, and more.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ADK Offers Backcountry Skills Programs

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), a national leader in outdoor education for nearly 90 years, is offering a full plate of programs and workshops in 2011 to help outdoor lovers hone their backcountry skills.

ADK’s workshops are designed to help participants explore the wonders of wild lakes and waterways, high alpine ridges, rugged backcountry wilderness and pristine forests while learning skills and ethics.

Most ADK outdoor workshops are based at the club’s Heart Lake Program Center in the Adirondack High Peaks region. A sampling of some of this year’s offerings is below, but a complete listing of ADK outdoor programs and workshops is available online.

Wildflower Weekend (May 21-22) Designed for beginner wildflower enthusiasts, but a good refresher course as well. This two-day program will familiarize participants with Adirondack wildflowers. The workshop will cover identification, use of field guides, botanical structures, relationships between plants and various environmental factors. Cost is $69 for ADK members and $76 for nonmembers.

American Canoe Association Instructor Certification Workshop (June 20-23) In addition to its introductory, one-day canoeing and kayaking courses (scheduled for June 4 and 5, respectively), ADK is offering this four-day program designed for outfitters, outdoor educators and experienced paddling enthusiasts. Refine paddling mechanics, hone rescue skills and develop teaching techniques. Cost is $375 for ADK members and $415 for nonmembers.

Beginner Backpacking: High Peaks Wilderness (July 8-10) Learn the tips and tricks of backpacking and low-impact camping with a New York State Licensed Guide. Spend three days and two nights in the High Peaks Wilderness and learn about proper gear, food planning and preparation, safety considerations, map reading, camp set-up, low-impact techniques, water treatment and more. Cost is $160 for ADK members and $176 for nonmembers.

Dog Days (Aug. 8-11) This four-day exploration and discovery program is designed for kids 8-12. Each day will feature fun educational activities using the woods and waters around the Adirondak Loj. Cost is $125 for ADK members and $138 for nonmembers.

Wilderness First Aid (Oct. 22-23) This intense Wilderness Medical Associates course teaches students how to deal with medical emergencies when they are miles from help. Cost is $235 for instruction and materials. A package including meals and two nights lodging is available for $320.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of New York’s Forest Preserve. ADK is a nonprofit membership organization that helps protect the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Adirondack Literary Awards Ceremony Announced

The Adirondack Center for Writing at Paul Smith’s College will present its annual Adirondack Literary Awards on June 12th at the Blue Mountain Center. Authors and poets from across the North Country submitted their work in March and will be honored by a panel of judges in the categories of fiction, poetry, children’s literature, memoir, nonfiction, and photography as well as a “People’s Choice Award.” The work of three regular contributors here at the Almanack are being considered this year. Adirondack Nature Notes: An Adirondack Almanac Sequel by Tom Kalinowski; Adirondack Ice: A Cultural and Natural History by Caperton Tissot; and History of Churubusco and the Town of Clinton, Clinton County, NY by Lawrence Gooley will be considered in the non-fiction category.

The Adirondack Center for Writing is a resource and educational organization that provides support to writers and enhances literary activity and communication throughout the Adirondacks. The event is FREE and open to the public, but space will be limited so reserve your seat through the ACW – 518.327.6278 or info@adirondackcenterforwriting.org.

Submissions for this year’s Awards include:

In Children’s Literature, Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto, by Eric Luper; A Day at the Fair by Judyann Grant; The Rock Singer by Betsey Thomas Train; Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner; and The Adirondack Kids 10: The Final Daze of Summer by Justin and Gary VanRiper.

In Fiction, Rehabilitation by Timothy J. Brearton; Adirondack Detective The Years Pass by John H. Briant; Saying Goodbye to Port Davis High by Dave Donohue; Mission to Xan by C.W. Dingman; Tailings by Jeffrey G. Kelly; and Incidental Contact by Chuck Walley

In Memoir, submissions include The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball; Green Fields by Bob Cowser; and Yabanci: An American Teacher in Turkey by Dave Donohue.

In Nonfiction, Why We Are Here edited by Bob Cowser; Adirondack Nature Notes: An Adirondack Almanac Sequel by Tom Kalinowski; Adirondack Ice: A Cultural and Natural History by Caperton Tissot; History of Churubusco and the Town of Clinton, Clinton County, NY by Lawrence Gooley; Haunted New York Volume 4 by Cheri Farnsworth; and See and Be Seen: Saratoga in the Victorian Era by Dr Hollis Palmer.

In Poetry, Winterberry Pine: Three Poets on Adirondack Winter by Elaine Handley, Marilyn McCabe, and Mary Sanders Shartle; Wanderings Through White Church by Mary Anne Johnson; Transfiguration by Pat Shannon Leonard; Set Theory by Georganna Millman; The One Good Bite in the Saw-Grass Plant; A poet in the Everglades by Roger Mitchell; and Lawless Adirondack Haiku by Sean Tierney and Karma in the High Peaks.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Potential Adirondack Wireless Locations Sought

Adirondack towns and villages have a unique opportunity to be included in a project that seeks to improve wireless cell and broadband availability in the Adirondack Park.

The goal of the Wireless Clearinghouse project is to create an inventory of existing structures in Adirondack Park towns that are suitable for housing a wireless antenna. The database will be a resource for private wireless companies, with the goal of encouraging them to expand wireless telecommunications across the region, a key to economic development. The inventory produced is expected to be a significant planning asset available through a secure website and featuring a GIS database with maps and images.

Right now, municipal officials are being asked to respond to an email sent by the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) that contains instructions for listing their community’s structures in the online inventory. All communities who provide feedback by May 31 will be publicly acknowledged when the final results of the project are published and will be entered in a drawing to win a free customized online mapping application.

Fountains Spatial Inc., a GIS consulting firm based in Schenectady, has been contracted by SUNY Plattsburgh and ANCA with project methodology, data collection, and development of an interactive web-map application to access the data collected in the project.

The data being collected this month will identify existing tall structures within Adirondack Park municipalities, such as churches, water towers, and other tall structures. To start, Fountains Spatial combed tax parcel data for information on property class codes such as churches, public services and government structures that could be considered suitable sites for a telecommunications antenna.

The project is due to be completed this summer. In the process, one of the goals is to inform community leaders of the opportunities provided by these technologies.

“DEC, SUNY Plattsburgh, Fountains Spatial and ANCA hope that the Wireless Clearinghouse database will encourage wireless carriers to provide service in additional Park communities. People today want to stay connected 24/7 using their mobile device or computer, and better wireless service will support municipal services, and benefit year round and seasonal residents, and visitors may stay longer,” said Howard Lowe, project manager.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Dave Gibson: Wild Forest Lands Do Need Our Help

Phil Terrie’s essay in the current Adirondack Explorer, “forests don’t need our help,” rebuts those who claim that no further land acquisition is justified because the state “can’t take care of what it already has.” Phil is absolutely correct to call the list of unmet recreational maintenance projects on a given unit of Forest Preserve, such as a trail or lean-to in rough shape, as a lame excuse for not adding additional strategic lands to the Preserve.

He is incorrect, however, in asserting that the “forever wild provision of the state constitution provides a perfect management plan. It costs nothing and provides the best guarantee possible for healthy, aesthetically appealing, functional ecosystems.”

Article 14, the forever wild clause of our Constitution, has never been self-executing. Its implementation requires both a vigilant defense to prevent bad amendments from being passed, as well as an offensive team of alert citizens and principled and funded state agencies to proactively carry out its mandate that the forest preserve is to be “forever kept as wild forest lands.” Call it field management, if you will. Over time, you can not preserve wilderness, or shall I say, Forest Preserve without actively managing ourselves, the recreational user. This prerequisite demands that we have management principles, plans and objectives in place, and that we oversee and measure the results.

I don’t mean a lean-to here, or a trail there that may be out of repair and needing maintenance, and not receiving it. What I mean is that the underlying philosophy, principles, plans and objectives for managing our uses of “forever wild” land are vitally important if you expect to still have wild, or natural conditions years hence. Remember that a part of the Wilderness definition in our State Land Master Plan (which echoes the national definition) is to “preserve, enhance and restore natural conditions.” Howard Zahniser, author of the National Wilderness Act, was inspired by New York’s Forever Wild history. He always maintained that our biggest challenge, once Wilderness was designated, was to keep wilderness wild, especially from all of us who could, and often do love wilderness to death. The same applies to the Forest Preserve. Of course, restoring “natural conditions” in a time of climate change is a significant challenge that wilderness managers are facing across the country.

Remember the way Marcy Dam used to look? Restoring that area from the impact of thousands of boot heels and lean-to campers took decades of effort. The High Peaks Wilderness Unit Management Plan established clear management objectives of, for example, restoring native vegetation at heavily used lean-to and trailhead sites, and redistributing and limiting the heavily concentrated camping pattern that once existed. It then took additional years to actively carry out those objectives, measure their progress, and achieve the desired results.

So did the efforts led by Edwin H. Ketchledge, ADK, DEC and Nature Conservancy to ecologically restore the High Peak alpine summits. In the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, the UMP is seeking to restore wilder conditions in the central core area, and move some of the dense snowmobile traffic to the perimeter of that unit.

In the Siamese Ponds Wilderness and Jessup River Wild Forest, it will take years of well directed management effort to restore parts of the western shoreline and islands of Indian Lake to achieve “natural conditions” after decades of uncertain management and overly intensive day and overnight use. Without a Siamese Ponds Wilderness UMP, there would be no clear wild land objectives, and no timetable to achieve them. Yes, those timetables are often exceeded, but these UMPs hold our public officials feet to the fire, and accountable to the State Land Master Plan and to Article 14 of the Constitution.

Our Constitution’s assertion that lands constituting the forest preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands” are, in these myriad and laborious ways, carried out for future generations. And yes, wild land management requires financial resources and devoted personnel. That is why it was so important a decade ago to establish a land stewardship account in the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. Yes, these funds are insufficient, so a stronger public-private partnership for Adirondack wild lands is needed.

Lost so far in the debate over whether and how to acquire some 65,000 acres of Finch, Pruyn lands for the Forest Preserve is the good thinking that should be underway about how to best manage these lands as wild lands, for their wild, ecological and recreational values. Assuming that some day these lands will be part of the Forest Preserve, time and effort needs to be devoted now to management planning that may help keep these lands as wild as possible, preserving their ecological integrity while planning for recreational uses that are compatible with the paramount need to care for these lands as part of the Forest Preserve.

For example, public access will need to be closely managed if wild land and natural conditions are to be preserved, enhanced or restored. During a visit sponsored by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, I was impressed, for example, with the extensive logging road network leading to the Essex Chain of Lakes south of Newcomb. This beautiful chain of lakes offers a fine future canoeing and kayaking attraction in the central Adirondacks, as well as an ecologically interesting and important aquatic resource.

State and private natural resource managers are giving quite a bit of thought, as they should, to how and where the paddling public might access the chain of lakes. Closing off some of the roads to motorized traffic, turning these into narrower trails, and requiring paddlers to carry or wheel their boats longer distances to enter or leave the lakes would create or restore wilder and more natural conditions along these sensitive shorelines, conditions which would appeal to paddlers from across the Northern Forest and Canada. Special fishing regulations may also be required to preserve the fishery long treasured by the private leaseholders here. The same level of planning thought will be needed to assure or restore both wild and natural conditions at Boreas Ponds, the Upper Hudson River and other former Finch lands and waters that merit Forest Preserve status.

Photo: Paddling on the Essex Chain of Lakes, south of Newcomb, NY, as guests of The Nature Conservancy.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Adirondack Guides: The Missing NYC ‘Sport’

Adirondack guides from over a century ago are themselves part of the lore and history of the region. Their handling of city “sports,” coupled with their great abilities in the woods, provided the background for many a legendary tale. Guides were often strongly independent and shared a great affinity for the solitude of the deep woods. So what were nearly two dozen of these woodsmen doing in a New York City courtroom in the winter of 1893–1894?

They were present for the culmination of a terrific news story that had earned sustained coverage for more than two years. Dozens of American and Canadian newspapers followed the tale, which at times dominated the New York City media. A key component was its Adirondack connection.

The story centered on well-known businessman John C. “Jack” Austin, 38, of Brooklyn. Fit, trim, and very athletic, he participated regularly in team and individual sports. In industry, he was known to have enjoyed success, providing a comfortable, if not wealthy, existence for his family. Austin’s wife died in February, 1891, leaving him with three young children to raise, which he was doing with the aid of their very attentive housekeeper.

The afternoon of July 4, 1891, was like any other holiday in Austin’s life, with plans to attend the horse races or go swimming at Manhattan Beach. He kissed the children good-bye and went on his way, promising to take them that evening to the Independence Day fireworks.

Nearly nine hours later, the clerk at Manhattan Beach was performing the nightly check of the safe’s contents when he encountered an envelope bearing the name and street address of John Austin. For bathers visiting the beach, it was normal procedure to hire a bath room for changing clothes, and to deposit any valuables (wallet, cash, rings, watches) in envelopes provided by the facility. The owner received a numbered ticket which was later used to recover those goods.

After finding the envelope with Austin’s name on it, the clerk searched Room #391, where he found a coat, vest, shirt, hat, trousers, and underwear. In the pockets of the clothing were a case of business cards, a penknife, some keys, and some pencils.

Since it was nighttime and Austin’s personal belongings were still present, there was only one logical explanation: the owner likely had drowned. The clerk called for help, and in the presence of the bathing pavilion superintendent, the Manhattan Beach chief of police, and a fireman, the security envelope was opened.

Inside were items of varying value: a pocketbook containing a few dollars and some change; a ring with the letter S on it; and a lady’s gold watch and chain, studded with pearls.

The family was contacted and apprised of the situation. Joseph Austin (John’s brother), and Thomas Carruthers (John’s brother-in-law) positively identified the belongings as John’s, and a search was initiated. For two days, police and volunteers patrolled the water and the beaches, covering not only Manhattan Beach, but the nearby shores of Jamaica Bay, Plum Island, Rockaway, and Sheepshead Bay.

Veteran lawmen and experienced searchers knew what to do and where to look. Drownings were not uncommon off the shores of Coney Island, where tides and the prevailing winds routinely sent victim’s bodies to the shore sooner or later. Austin was presumed drowned, and alerts were issued to authorities on Staten Island as well as the New Jersey shore on the outside chance the body might surface there.

Over the course of ten days, nothing was found, which in itself stirred suspicions. Some suggested that a northwest wind had driven the body out to sea, but police and beach veterans knew better. Austin’s room, #391, had been rented at about 4:00 pm, and for several hours following, a strong flood tide had pushed inland. To a man, they recognized it as an unusual circumstance that Austin’s body had not washed ashore—if he had, in fact, drowned.

The family filed a claim with two insurance companies, where Austin’s coverage totaled $25,000 (equal to about $620,000 today). However, since no body had been recovered, one of the companies had already begun an investigation, despite the stellar public image of Austin as a respected, honest, hard-working family man. They wouldn’t be paying on the claim just yet.

A number of peculiarities, both large and small, were noted in the situation surrounding John Austin’s disappearance. He was known to be wearing a very valuable diamond ring, but only an inexpensive ring was found in the envelope.

The same was true of the lady’s watch that was found. Austin always wore his own watch, described as “a magnificent chronometer.” Friends and relatives said the valued watch was being repaired at a jeweler, but the insurance company discovered that the watch had been picked up on July 3, the day before he vanished. The jeweler’s shop was very near Austin’s office, but for some unknown reason, he sent a messenger boy with a check to pick up the watch.

It was also learned that John Austin patronized Manhattan Beach regularly and was well known to many of the workers—yet no one recalled seeing him on July 4. Further, on that day it was chilly and windy, reducing attendance to about 600 on a beach that often held many thousands of bathers. Despite the sparseness of the crowd, no employees could be found who had seen Austin.

Co-workers and partners confirmed that the missing man always carried plenty of cash, almost never less than $100. And yet the envelope of his belongings held just a few dollars.

He was also known to many as a very prolific and strong swimmer, often covering extreme distances. Drowning seemed an unlikely end for such a fit and able swimmer.

Another possibility was floated: perhaps Austin had been hiding out while an imposter went to the beach on his behalf, used the changing room, and deposited the valuables (which had since been deemed not so valuable after all). That would explain why (in an unusually sparse crowd) no attendants had seen Austin. Maybe he hadn’t been there at all.

Many more suspicious developments spurred further investigation, expanding far from the confines of New York City. Austin’s three orphaned children were now living with his sister, who was a resident of Montreal, Quebec.

It was learned that their missing father was one of a great many city dwellers who frequented the Adirondacks for hunting and fishing expeditions. Since the Adirondacks were little more than an hour south of Montreal, investigators kept digging.

It was then ascertained that John C. Austin was no stranger to the North Country. To be more specific, a number of those stalwarts of the north woods, the Adirondack guides, claimed to have not only seen Austin since his supposed drowning, but had guided him in several areas, including the Saranac Lake region.

New developments caused further consternation. Of the two insurance policies which together were equal to well over $600,000 (in 2011), one had been secured by Austin on July 1, just three days before he vanished. And, after procuring the new policy, he had asked a secretary in the insurance office if it took effect at that very moment. It did seem an unusual query. With confirmation, he requested that the policy be sent to him ASAP. It was mailed that afternoon.

A few witnesses eventually came forth, claiming they had seen a man disappear while swimming well offshore on July 4. Skeptical detectives suggested another scenario. Since Austin was widely known as a powerful swimmer, they believed he swam a few miles out, where he was picked up by a boat and secreted for a time at the home of his good friend, Henry LaMarche, south of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, not much more than ten miles from Manhattan Beach.

LaMarche denied it, but his gardener and other employees stated emphatically that they had seen Austin with LaMarche in the days following the supposed drowning.

Following up on Jack Austin’s great love of the north woods, detectives found many Adirondack guides who had known him over the years and claimed to have recently seen him and/or worked for him. One of them provided a photograph, said to have been taken recently. It showed Austin in full hunting gear.

Confident now that this was a scam, the insurance companies denied the family’s claims, which were made on behalf of the children. Both sides had taken a firm stand, and the matter of whether or not John C. Austin was alive or dead would be decided by the courts.

Thus, in December, 1893, about twenty Adirondack woodsmen found themselves en route to New York City for an extended stay, courtesy of the insurance companies. They were to testify about their interactions with Austin and the range of his movements.

Next week: From the big woods to the big city.

Photo Top: Manhattan Beach, circa 1900.

Photo Bottom: Headline from the Austin case.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Adirondack Wildlife: The Hardy Bumble Bee

Shortly before apple blossoms open and honeysuckle flowers emerge from their buds, queen bumble bees awaken from their winter dormancy and begin the chore of establishing the small colony over which they will reign throughout the coming growing season.

In autumn, as asters begin to fade, the queen bumble bee abandons her colony and prepares for the coming winter. After mating with one or several male bees, she then begins to work her way through the layer of dead, leafy matter covering the ground and down into the soil. Like most other bugs, the queen lapses into a period of deep dormancy that often lasts seven months in this northern climate. Both the worker and male bumble bees in the colony eventually perish as the cold becomes more intense and sources of nectar completely disappear.

As the ground thaws in mid April and her surroundings warm, the queen makes her way to the surface and starts to search for a site in which to locate her nest. In the Adirondacks, the bumble bee often places her colony in or near the ground. A small hole that leads underground, such as the entrance to a vacant chipmunk burrow or the opening to an abandoned vole tunnel is occasionally selected for the nest’s location. A tiny grotto among a pile of rocks or a hollow log lying on the forest floor is another site that the queen may use to house her colony.
After creating several waxy containers to hold her initial few eggs, the queen then begins the month long process of caring for her developing offspring. Since only the queen is present at this initial stage of the colony’s development, only a handful of eggs are produced in mid spring.

As early blooming plants open their flowers at the end of April or the first week or two of May, it is common for the queen bumble bee to regularly visit any plants that is yielding pollen and nectar. Unlike the honey bee which visits only a single type of flower each day when it becomes active in collecting floral material, the bumble bee is far less selective. This hefty, yellow and black insect is known to stop at a variety of sources of nectar and pollen during its daily search for nourishment, especially when flowers are still few and far between.

The bumble bee is well adapted for a life in our cold climate, and is not as adversely impacted by the unseasonably cool weather that may settle over the Park in May as are other species of bees and wasps. The larger size of this flying insect, along with its rounded body shape helps create a body mass to surface area ratio that limits heat loss better than any other social or stinging insect. The especially dense layer of “hair-like” bristles that cover the bumble bee’s body functions like a coat of fur to help retain heat. Additionally, when exposed to the cold, the bumble bee is reported to be able to vibrate certain muscles within its body much as a person shivers in order to elevate its internal temperature. Finally, when collecting food, the bumble bee never wastes energy in attempting to attack a larger intruder, like a human that may have wandered too close to the tree or shrub in which it is foraging.
The bumble bee is the most docile stinging insect in the North Country and uses its primary defensive weapon only when something actually grabs it, or disturbs its nest. While the bumble bee occasionally flies close to people in order to investigate colorful articles of clothing they may be wearing, it inevitably realizes it cannot collect food from that object, and always leaves without incident.

Killing a bumble bee, especially at this time of the year, when its colony is just starting to function, is never an environmentally good action. Because of the very limited presence of the honey bee in the Adirondacks, the bumble bee assumes the role of a primary pollinator of many flowering plants across the region. (However, I never have a problem destroying a wasp, especially a bald-faced hornet, as I am convinced that they are insect vermin, but the bumble is NOT!) If the insect you see flying around is large, rounded and fuzzy, it is a bumble bee, which should always be left alone as it is an important component of the environment here in the Adirondacks.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

Tom Kalinowski has written several books on nature in the Adirondacks.


Friday, May 13, 2011

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 6,000 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Friday, May 13, 2011

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 6,000 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Page 448 of 724« First...102030...446447448449450...460470480...Last »