Danaus plexippus

Danaus plexippus, the milkweed butterfly.

This resident caterpillar…

from one egg of over 300 eggs; after a 3-5 day development becomes…

a summer weather caterpillar for 9-14 days with 5 stages of growth called instars.

On the 5th instar…

a pupa forms, then in 8-15 days an inexplicable wonder …

millions of late summer adults become international travelers.

Unfathomable mystery packaged by God.

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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

 

Never Too Short

If you live in the northern hemisphere your tolerance of it is gone by March. Perhaps you were one of those who delighted in it last fall. In March you say, “enough.” As snow continues to fall our united hearts cry, “spring!”

Before snow and winter end, there is wisdom in remembering what snow is. It forms above our heads in air temperatures below 32 degrees. Call it a snowflake. It is actually a crystal. In each crystal, every water molecule is lined up in a precise hexagonal array. Now, a snowflake is any combination of exquisite snow crystals from fragments of crystals to hundreds, even thousands of crystals falling in clumps.DSC_0232_2018sig

We have heard it said, “no two crystals are alike.” This is the fantastic part. The formation of an intensely beautiful snow crystal is dependent upon these factors: temperature, humidity and path of travel. For every crystal, all three factors are slightly different. As each crystal forms and grows those three factors are the same for each of the six arms-but different for every other crystal.

This is the part that dazzles us. Have you given thought to how many snow crystals fall upon the surface of the earth in a winter season?  It’s one septillion. If you are interested in writing this number it is 1-with 24 zeros following it, don’t forget the commas…eight of them. What is dazzle doubled? Everyone of the one septillion crystals is different.DSC_0240_2021sig

This is the time of year we are delighted with another aspect of snow crystals. They melt.

Before we leave snow behind for this season, consider another truth. We can use snow for the example. How many things have you made that are alike but different? Certainly not 1 septillion. The snow crystal is one example in an infinite number of things all made by One Creator. God.

God controls temperature, humidity and yes, the path of every snow crystal. One more time-1 septillion paths. While each fell God also controlled the heart rate and respiration of every living creature on earth, including us. Simultaneously God coordinated sunrise and set, earth tides and the orbits of all nine major planets in our solar system. Not to mention all of the other unnamed events happening at the same time-in the universe.DSC_0244_2023sig

Does this seem too like an impossibility? Not when you remember omnipotent means all-powerful; unlimited all powerful. There is a verse in the Bible which is a metaphor describing the power of God. God is speaking to Moses about providing meat for over a million people. It reads, “The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” Numbers 11:23 It rained quail…read Numbers 23.

1 septillion snow crystals-in one winter. Quail falling from the sky by the thousands, enough to feed a million people. Perfect love for the whole world. Perfect never-changing love for you. A friend said today, “You can’t make this stuff up.”  One snow crystal is evidence of the power of God. 1 septillion snow crystals are overwhelming. God’s “arm” is never too short.