Pleasure or Pain..

or perhaps a post headed ‘Trick or Treat’ or ‘To Bee or Not to Bee’ – that is the question! Hmm, Halloween due, I am tempted to write a post about witches brew – Toe of Toad, Gizzard of Lizard, and all that, oh, and not forgetting Ass of Asp 🙂 but maybe that’s too predictable. It’s not just people knocking at your door that can give you a treat or nasty surprise tho, it’s the same in the animal kingdom wherever you live, Manchester in England or Manchester in South America . In the UK, its animals like the busy bee that not only have the pain of a sting in their tail but give us the pleasure of their bounty in the shape of delicious honey – I love honey big time, pure energy!  Those little guys work so hard to produce it tho – it’s no wonder here in Manchester we have them as our mascot (you can see them everywhere – even on all the bollards and bins – a tribute to us hard-working Northerners 🙂

Did you know in South America there is a Bumblebee dart frog (Dendrobates leucomelas pictured), so named because of its colouration. You can gain much pleasure from just looking at these beautiful creatures, but any animal be warned if they taste this one, for its not only its beauty that is skin deep, but also it’s poison!

I think there are many kinds of real bees in South America that could give you a nasty sting, but their honey is just the best –  I always have lots of it when working in the field looking for frogs. It really does give you energy like nothing else. Maybe its the fact that the bees are gathering their pollen from the rainforest plants that gives it such a lovely taste too – I really recommend rainforest honey – you can now even buy it in Asda, but it’s not quite the same as slurping it from an old Jack Daniels bottle in the middle of the jungle 🙂 (that’s without any Jack Daniels in the bottle of course!)

Bees are cool, and from what I hear now need conserving as badly as our amphibians. When I get my next place I am going to look into keeping them, but in the mean time there is so much to learn about them – and not just honey bees, but bumblebees (http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org.uk/) and solitary bees (of which in the UK there are about 270 different species).Why not look into finding out more about them too, they’re fascinating creatures: http://www.britishbee.org.uk/bees4kids/index.php.

Here at the Museum, we are always trying to encourage little ones to learn about the importance of nature and the world around us, and this week’s contributions to the Manchester Science Festival are no exception. I really enjoyed giving the frog talks on Tuesday and hope that everyone who attended enjoyed it too. This weekend, if you live local, and in contrast to the tricks being played on Halloween, why not come along again to the museum between 1-3 to learn about the importance of bees this time. It’s open to all ages and youngsters can even knit their own to take home as a treat!  http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com/whatson/beeknittingmcr.

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