Almanack Contributor Jackie Woodcock

Jackie Woodcock

Jackie Woodcock was born and lives in the Adirondack Mountains. She is an apiarist, lepidopterist, conservationist, teacher, writer, artist, and a co-owner of SkyLyfeADK. You can find her SkyLyfeADK on Instagram and Facebook.


Monday, August 3, 2020

Hidden Inside: The Miracle of Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis is a process in which animals undergo extreme, rapid physical changes that occur within a particular time after birth. The result of metamorphosis may be a change to the organism’s entire bodily makeup, such as a change in the animal’s number of legs, its means of eating, or its means of breathing. Metamorphosis is also required for sexual maturity, as pre-metamorphic members of specific species are typically unable to mate or reproduce.

This process is undergone by most insects. Animals that undergo metamorphosis include fish, mollusks, and many other types of sea creatures which are related to insects, mollusks, or fish.  

Metamorphosis is a miraculous process. The speed and extent of cell growth and differentiation is astonishing. The process of metamorphosis involves a re-activating of genes that allow animal cells to change from one cell type to another, and is triggered by hormones, which the animal’s body releases as conditions for metamorphosis approach. These hormones cause drastic changes to the functioning of cells, and even behavioral changes such as the caterpillar becoming a chrysalis.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, July 13, 2020

How the Honey Pot is Filled

Honey is the only food made by an insect that is eaten both by humans and the insect itself.  Bears, badgers and other animals also eat honey and have long been raiding the winter stores of their winged friends to harvest this tasty treat. 

Honey is a very stable food that naturally resists molds, fungi and other bacteria, allowing it to last for years without refrigeration.  It is well known that honey is made by a colony of honey bees living in a nest or in a hive if kept by a beekeeper.

A typical bee hive will house about 60,000 bees, most of them workers, industriously making honey and the honeycombs in which the honey is stored.  That’s a lot of honey bees, working very hard to produce honey for the colony.  It takes about 556 foraging bees to visit 2 million flowers, just to make a pound of honey!

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Sunday, July 5, 2020

This Pollinator Hums but is Not a Bee!

Hummingbirds are some of the most vibrant and aerobatic creatures witnessed here in the Adirondacks.  They are known as hummingbirds because of the humming sound created by their beating wings, which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in mid-air at wing-flapping rates that vary from around 12 beats per second to an excess of 80 beats per second, the smaller the species the faster the wing flapping.

There are more than 300 species of hummingbirds found exclusively in the Americas from Alaska to Chile and are classified as the smallest bird species. With most of this species measuring 3–5 inches in length and weighing about the same as a penny or .09 oz. The runt of these species is the bee hummingbird that is approximately 2 inches long and weighs less than .07 oz.  

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Sharing ‘the buzz’ about native bees

There are an estimated 4,000 species of bees native to North American and range in size from carpenter bees, which are over an inch long, to tiny Perdita bees that barely reach 1/16 of an inch. 

Native bees range in color from black or brown with yellow, orange, white, or pearl-colored markings. Others have body parts in metallic green or blue. Some are furry, while others are almost hairless. 

Bees belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, which means “membrane-winged.  These insects possess two pairs of wings, a distinct “waist,” and mouthparts adapted for biting or chewing. Bees are distinguished by their branched body hairs which are helpful in trapping pollen grains, and their wide leg segments. 

The common names of bees often reflect nesting styles and other behaviors. Carpenter, mason, plasterer, leafcutter, digger, and polyester bees are named for the females’ nest-building techniques, whereas orchard, gourd, and alkali bees are named for their preferred habitat. 

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails: Wings of the Woodlands

The eastern tiger swallowtail lives in deciduous woods along streams, rivers and swamps and can be seen flying along the roadways here in the Mountains. Eastern tiger swallowtails are loners but are known to be quite friendly to humans and have been observed following people around their yard or in Fields.  

Males are yellow or yellow-orange with black tiger stripes. Their wings are bordered in black with yellow spots, and there are black “tiger stripes” running across the top of their wings. Their long black tails have blue patches on them.

Females can range in color from the yellow of the male to an almost solid bluish-black. The black form of the eastern tiger swallowtail is most common in the southern part of its range in areas also inhabited by the pipevine swallowtail, a butterfly that has an unpleasant taste. The black form of the eastern tiger swallowtail may be an example of deceptive coloration using mimicry by pretending to be the poisonous pipevine.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

10 ways you can help pollinators

Pollinators are in trouble. 

Unfortunately, pollinators are in decline worldwide. Habitat loss, invasive species, parasites, and pesticides are largely to blame.

You can help save pollinators. Here are 10 ways you can directly help pollinators which protects and restore these critically important wildlife species.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

National Pollinator Week: Who are the pollinators?

Pollinators are animals and insects that carry pollen from one plant to another. Pollinators are responsible for much of our food and flowers and are responsible for the reproduction of 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat.   In order to understand pollinators, we need to know a little bit about plants.

Just like animals, flowering plants need to mate. But how can an organism spread its genes without being able to meet up with others of its species and this is where pollinators come in.  Pollinators are animals of all types that visit flowers and take away their pollen. Pollen is a sex cell of plants and is essential for reproduction. As pollinators move from flower to flower, they deposit the collected pollen, basically allowing the plants to mate. 

Many flowers attract insects and animals with the promise of a sugary liquid called nectar.  Their smell and bright petals advertise fresh nectar to passing insects and other flying pollinators like hummingbirds.  In return for the gift of nectar, the flower deposits pollen on whatever comes to visit.  Pollen is like the sperm of plants – and is the way that plants spread their genes and mate with other plants in the same species.

Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes and include species of insects, birds, and mammals. 

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Friday, June 19, 2020

Operation Pollinator Rescue 

Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems many animals rely on for food and shelter. 

Over half of the diets of fats and oils come from crops pollinated worldwide by pollinators alone and facilitate the reproduction in 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants.  Pollinators are needed in the production of over 130 different human food crops and are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat and beverages we drink. 

A world without pollinators would be devastating.  As nature lovers and educators, the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge (in Wilmington) and SkyLyfeADK are collaborating to implement an extensive pollinator project named Operation Pollinator Rescue. 

» Continue Reading.


Friday, May 29, 2020

Bumblebees: Out of the Shadows

bumblebeeWhen it comes to pollination it seems that honey bees are give the spotlight, but they’re not the only bees that shine for their ability to pollinate.  Bumblebees have their own unique abilities that honey bees don’t. 

Bumblebees are long tongued bees with tongues 15mm – 20mm long and are capable of pollinating tuberous flowers with deep corollas such as cucumber, tomatoes, melons, squash, thistle, honeysuckle among many others. 

In contrast, honey bees are short tongued bees with tongues 5mm – 8mm long and pollinate flowers that are flatter and shallow such as, coneflowers, daisies, apples, cherries, raspberries, cranberries along with a variety of others.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, May 11, 2020

The Waggle: Interpretive Dance of the Honey Bee

honeybeeHoney bee colonies contain three distinct castes of individuals.  Each hive contains a single female queen, tens of thousands of female workers, and anywhere from several hundred to several thousand male drones during the Spring and Summer.

Female workers bees are solely responsible for bringing two main resources back to the hive.  These two resources both come from a flower: nectar and pollen.  These workers diligently search for flowers with the most of these two resources which are vitally important for the survival of the hive.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Basics of Beekeeping: A Labor of Love

I am often asked why I decided to become a beekeeper. My journey into beekeeping came from my deep concern for the fate of honeybees (apis mellifera), which have been dying out in droves. There are very few things that can prepare you for the experiences you will discover with the amazing creatures we call honey bees.

 Beekeeping is like teaching or practicing law or medicine, and so many other things. Until you’ve actually done it and gotten some experience under your belt, all the reading and classroom time in the world doesn’t truly prepare you for the real thing. I love beekeeping but there are plenty of times the work is heavy, hot, tiring, and extremely sticky. It’s vital you do your homework and make sure you want to be a beekeeper before investing in hives, clothing, tools and other equipment – all of which can quickly run into the hundreds of dollars. So what’s the best way to prepare for this rewarding and eco-friendly hobby and be sure it’s right for you? The best preparation you can undertake is to find other local beekeepers and ask lots of questions. 

» Continue Reading.


Friday, April 10, 2020

Rising from the freeze, embracing signs of spring

Spring is a time when flowers bloom and trees begin to grow. The days grow longer and the temperatures rise above 40 degrees. For the people who have weathered the winter, the melting of ice and thawing of the ground is greatly anticipated.  During this period, creatures who have adapted to the freezing temperatures through miraculous transformations in bodily functions, now rise to an altered green landscape. 

Many people have not witnessed these seasonal transformations, but as mountain dwellers in close proximity to these creatures, a glimpse becomes possible. Making it to spring is no small feat for animals that hibernate.  To humans, hibernation may appear restful but for the animals who hibernate, this state can be arduous. Some of these animals expend huge bursts of energy so their body temperatures don’t dip too low and do it with little to no food and water. 

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

8 tips for staying connected during coronavirus distancing

unityAs we find ourselves in an atmosphere where the terms “Social Distancing” and “Self Quarantine” become common, it can be easy to feel like your world is out of your control. I know here in the Mountains many people have already undergone a form of social distancing due to the winter weather, and are possibly more adjusted to be confined than those who have been living among large numbers of people on a daily basis.

We are products of routine and when that routine is abruptly altered, life as we know can become skewed. It seems as though perception becomes ourstrength, our weapon against challenging times. We do have a choice, a choice in how we view the circumstances and react. The United States is not a stranger to invisible attacks. Throughout history we as humans have been fighting a battle with viruses and diseases and we have prevailed.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Adirondack Refuge: Where The Wild Things Go

Alex with Zeebie and Cree at Adirondack Wildlife RefugeIt’s no secret that throughout time, we’ve been seeking a human – animal bond. The American Veterinary Medical Association defines a  human – animal bond as a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors essential to the health and well-being of both.

Today we see this drive to understand and be part of this bond from anthrozoology to the average pet owner. The American Pet Products Association says that the number of U.S. households that own a pet is on the rise. They say about 68 percent of U.S. households have a pet, more than 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. People are also changing the way they view their relationships with animals, both in the home, and outside it. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Little Things: Pollination at its Finest

honeybee by Jackie Woodcock

Here in the Adirondacks the stars are our night light, the crickets and bull frogs our bedtime lullaby.

This is a place where the simple things are seen and not overlooked. Mountain life affords us an advantage, serene surroundings to ponder about the little things and the opportunity to witness nature at work up close and personal. » Continue Reading.



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