The Superior Life Plan

 
 
The end is near. This is not a doomsday message from a want to be prophet. The end is near, it is a fact.
 
Blooming flowers will cease first. Freezing temperatures may hasten the end of blossoms. The work of pollinators for the season is near its conclusion for this season.DSC_0010ed
 
There is a cold reality coming. Many humans accept it with regret. Winter is nearing. Before full winter sets in the bumble bee in the photo will be dead. It sounds dreadful, but it is a nature fact.
The workers of a bumble bee colony will all be compost or food for others long before winter arrives in the north country. But there is a plan for the colony this bumble bee comes from. The bumble bee in this photo is likely feeding the final colony of bumble bees of this summer season. DSC_0001ed
 
This last colony is special. Unlike summer bumble bee colonies, it contains a number of queen bumble bees. Before freezing temperatures end flowers and nectar flower each queen from the colony will mate and find a safe winter nest just her size. There she will hibernate till spring. The eggs within her body will become the first bumble bee colony of next spring.
 
Native bees also overwinter in a birth cell as a pupa or immature adult bee. They will complete development in the warm first flower weather of next spring.
 
Honey bees are different. They overwinter in their nest around the queen. They are not dormant, but greatly reduce their activity. They use honey stored in the hive for winter food and “shiver” to keep the hive and themselves warm.
There is unconventional beyond this world wisdom evident in the lives of these pollinators. There is a winter provision. There is a superior life plan. The life cycle of bumble bee and honey bees is perpetuated throughout winter.
 
Take a long look at these photos. Look at the bumble bee, the honey bee (I think it is.) God has provided for these creatures who provide us food with their pollinating work. Flowers for them in spring, summer and fall and a winter protection plan when cold arrives.
 
Call it mercy, call it love. Yes, God loves His creation. That includes us.
 
Are you suffering? Is there heart ache, human trouble which seems an insurmountable mountain? God provides. He loves His creation, all of it. Tell Him of your trials, your worries, your fears.
Read His promise to us: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
 
He provides for the bees. He will provide for you, in ways you cannot imagine. Talk with Him, He is always loving you, always listening for your voice. His plan is superior.

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Beyond Perfect

Our eyes turn light into sight. Since we are prone to forget this is beyond amazing. Our eyes are the gateway to understanding the world we live in. It first passes through the cornea which begins the focusing process. The iris gives our eyes their color. It regulates the amount of light entering the eye. Then light enters the eye through the focus of the lens. It passes through the shape providing vitreous gel and lands on the macula which is a sensitive central area of the retina and gives vision. The fovea is the center of the macula, it is here that our sharpest vision occurs. Over a million nerve fibers are needed to carry the image our eyes have glimpsed to be processed in the brain. Seven highly specialized eye components combine to provide our sight. Our eyes may process the thousands of images found in a landscape or a single word on this page.

If we are gifted with sight, our eyes alone are proof of miracles.

Similar to humans bees have two eyes. The similarity ends there. A bee eye is compound. Another way to understand compound is the word facet. It means face. The eyes of a bee have multiple faces. Depending on the type of bee, worker or drone there are between 6,000 and 9,000 facets in a single bee eye. Each face or face has an estimated 8 photo receptors. What would our human vision be like if we had 72,000 photo receptors? In addition, bees are able to see ultra-violet light. This allows them to see patterns in flowers our eyes cannot.

If human eyes are proof of miracles, the eyes of bees are irrefutable miracles.

There are another pair of eyes. They are the eyes of God. He is the Creator of the eye, human or insect, the eye is His design. Ezra, a priest and scribe of the Bible Old Testament wrote 2 Chronicles. In this book Ezra gave insight into the eyesight of God. He wrote, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9a)

Eyes, are stunning, breath-taking miracles.

God’s eyes search the earth. Knowing this truth convicts, and comforts. God sees us. He knows our every going out and each coming in. He loves us when we don’t love Him. He calls us back to Him. As we bind our lives to Him He gives us strength. Consider how well the Creator of every eye can see.

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With Eternity in View

Its nickname is assassin fly but, you are not in danger, it eats other insects. It does bite. Its bite is painful to humans, but they bite only when provoked. To other insects bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, and other flies-the robber fly is deadly.

In Latin this insect belongs to the family Asilidae. Approximately 1,000 species of Asilidae have been discovered in North America. Perhaps you’ve heard of robber flies. If not, you should know about them.

Robber flies are true predators in the insect world. From the larval stage produced from an egg laid on a low plant, or even in the soil a robber fly larva emerges to eat its way to adulthood. The way it eats is remarkable. The way it over winters as a larva in the soil is more. It freezes, yet lives on. The larva pupates in the soil. This stage can take from 1-3 years depending on the species of robber fly and the environment where it is found.

Why become excited about a robber fly? If overwintering in frozen soil does not impress you, its hunting prowess should. It captures its prey on the fly. Watch a bumblebee or butter fly, or even the lowly house fly. Attempt, if you can, to follow its flight for more than a second. Robber flies not only follow, they intercept these flying insects midair. Using exceptionally acute vision generated by their large compound eyes, they target their prey inflight with unfailing accuracy. Yes, it’s astonishing. There’s a problem though, robber flies are usually smaller than their prey. Now for the amazing.

Robber flies have long powerful, and bristled grasping legs. But, not strong enough to hold an insect larger than it is. Yet, just strong enough to hold the insect while the robber fly injects it with poisonous venom. Robber fly venom contains neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes. Think of it as a small dose of snake venom. In milliseconds this venom kills and liquefies the insides of the insect. The robber fly then perches on a nearby plant and consumes a liquified meal of insect parts and venom-but it lives!

An eternal reason to know about the robber fly it defies every human explanation for its existence.

Consider these facts you know:

  1. It kills other insects, yet the balance of insect life on earth is maintained.
  2. Exceptional vision…able to catch other flying insects in air! Its sight and instinct combined.
  3. Insect killing venom…that does not kill the robber fly, an insect itself.
  4. 1,000 species in North America, over 7,000 worldwide, each different, yet robber fly.

These attributes point us to the true origin of the robber fly, a Creator. Consider the questioning words of the prophet Isaiah who asked, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” (Isaiah 40:28) A small, but amazing part of the “ends” of the earth is the robber fly. Its existence is unfathomable. You should know about it.

This more than about a fly. It’s about eternity. The robber fly points the way.

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Every Heartbeat

Every Heartbeat
 
This is about the heart. Break it down to a purely physical description, and describe it as “a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation.” This is a start. There is significantly more to a heart. More physical detail helps. In humans there are 4 chambers, two atria, and two ventricles. A normal sized heart is comparable to a human fist and weighs about 10.5 ounces.
The average human heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute(bpm). DSC_0027ed
 
To understand the significance of the human heart rate let’s compare them with animal heart rates. A hibernating groundhog rate is 5 bpm. The Blue Whale 8-10 bpm. Horses have a bpm of 28-40. A mouse has a bpm of 450-750.
 
Invertebrate hearts are very different physically from humans. Insects are known to have an open circulatory system. Their internal organs “float” in blood. Insect blood is called “hemolymph.” Insects hearts are found in their abdomens. Usually there is a tube at the top of the insect’s back which has holes to take in the “hemolymph” and pump it towards the head.
 
Large insects like the bumble bee use the muscles of their wings to increase heart rate and blood flow and warm their bodies on cold mornings. This makes bumble bees important pollinators. They begin pollinating earlier in the day and continue longer as evening temperatures ground other pollinators. We do not know the heart rate of insects. Yet a honey bee flies at a rate of 15 mph and will travel up to 3 miles to collect plant nectar. Its heart rate must be elevated after such exertion.DSC_0023ed
 
What causes human hearts to beat rhythmically, steadily night and day for an average of 79 years? Do you ever need to tell your heart to beat? Medical science identifies the sinoatrial node as the “heart’s natural pacemaker.” This tiny cluster of specialized heart cells send electrical impulses which produce a heart-beat. It works for a lifetime.
 
Now the question behind what causes the heart to beat. What causes the sinoatrial node to send electrical impulses? DSC_0018ed
 
Have you ever taken your pulse, or placed your hand over your heart and felt your pulse? Yes, diet, stress and exercise impact heart health. But our hearts function a lifetime, and we have little to do with it. It’s really a miracle. My favorite shepherd who also was a king, David said of God, “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) God knows your heart. He made your heart and knew how many times it would beat-before you were born. That’s how powerful, how wonderful God is.
 
There is great comfort in this. Your heart beats free at no charge for you-all of life. God does that for you. God directs the sinoatrial node to function.
 
This is also about the heart that lives beyond death, your soul. He knows the number of your days. He knows the sin in your heart for each of those days. He did something for us about that. He sent His Son Jesus to clean our soul-heart, the eternal heart, from sin which separates us from God.
 
Consider the words of the shepherd/king once more, “From his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” (Psalm 33:14-16) God is in the heart business, yours and mine. He’s the ultimate expert in hearts.DSC_0045ed

Bombus Ternarius

Bombus ternarius is a member of the group Bombini. Latin always adds some depth to the subject. But we are not discussing a new band. Our subject is a bumble bee. Now, a bumble bee announcement: Central North Dakota has this spring’s first Tri Colored Bumble bees. My own eyes witnessed one in the photos.DSC_0198ed

For you “so what” skeptics, yes this is significant. Look at the photo. If she was not so small you could bow to the queen. This is a queen. She has just emerged from her winter nest of more than 5 ½ months. At the time of the photos, she was the only bumble bee in the area. This is the first wow!

The 2nd wow: in her body are the eggs that will make the next generation of Tri-colored bumble bees for this area. Her eggs over wintered in her body-frozen.DSC_0200ed

3rd wow: She is small between 17 and 19 mm long, males and workers are between 8 and 13. A penny is about 17 mm. Yet, she is a big bee.

Ternarius refers to its three colors yellow, black and orange/red. Tri-colored bumble bees are quite common. They occur from the Yukon to Nova Scotia and are wide-spread in the United States. Don’t let the word common end your amazement.

Yes, wow is too plain-we’ll use astounding.DSC_0203ed

4th a worker Tri-colored bumble bee weighs 5 hundredths of a gram. Without exaggeration, we can say it is ultralight…astounding is better.

 Tri-colored worker bees may fly up to 1/3 to 1 mile to find pollen to feed the colony the queen produces. Unlike honey bees, bumble bees do not make large quantities of honey. Since they feed the larval bumble bees pollen, the bumble bee is an exceptional pollinator. While cold-blooded they warm up faster, with fuzzy bodies they begin their day earlier than the honey bee, so they accomplish more pollination.

Questions for us:

  1. How does the Tri-colored bumble bee fly in a wind? It is so light and its wings so small.
  2. Why does it have three colors-most bumble bees have two.
  3. How is this queen bee able to survive? There were no noticeable sources of pollen-no flowers at the time of the photos. How did it survive winter-frozen?
  4. Why is this queen bee so shiny? Why the shiny black wings and feet?
  5. Do you see the dots between the eyes? One photo shows the ocelli- primitive eyes between the large shiny compound eyes. Why ocelli?

This bee is beautiful. But not when she landed on our granddaughter’s nose. Perhaps it was the sugar from the frozen yogurt on her face. I heard the scream. It was later I found out this bee thought our granddaughter was food.DSC_0204ed

One more thing. This bee is no accident, no chance organization of life. She flies-in strong wind. She knows where the pollen is. She survives being frozen for months. She pollinates-even when it’s too cold for honey bees. She does things impossible for humans, even impossible for other types of bees. Our lives are dependent on her survival.

This is the thing: she is a miracle. Let’s give credit to its Inventor. Yes, this bee was “invented.” No human eye saw it. This bee was invented before human eyes were. We can substitute created for invented. In this case the Inventor knows everything and has all the power. This Inventor knows exactly how to make a large bodied insect like the Tri-colored bumble bee fly. This Inventor is the Creator of the universe, his name is Jesus.

John the Baptist explained it best in the Bible, John 1:1-3, he said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Through Jesus, all things were made. Even my favorite bumble bee the Tri-colored bumble bee was made by Jesus.

Jesus knows the answers to all of my questions, and all of yours. He gave perfect attention and wisdom to the creation of the Tri-colored bumble bee and perfect attention, perfect wisdom, to making you and me.  His “inventions” shine with perfection. His love never fails.DSC_0202ed