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.
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:
- It kills other insects, yet the balance of insect life on earth is maintained.
- Exceptional vision…able to catch other flying insects in air! Its sight and instinct combined.
- Insect killing venom…that does not kill the robber fly, an insect itself.
- 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.
Late afternoon in a tiny prairie.
Photos: prairie onion (1&2) followed by Gray Headed Cone flower, the next two of two spotted bumble bees on Anise Hyssop, the last two are Cup Plant.
Sitting among flowers and bumblebees is quiet peace.
It brings a sense of being part of something much greater.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- How does the Tri-colored bumble bee fly in a wind? It is so light and its wings so small.
- Why does it have three colors-most bumble bees have two.
- 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?
- Why is this queen bee so shiny? Why the shiny black wings and feet?
- 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.
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.