Thursday, 9 September 2021


Via Super Punch, we learn that not only has the Swiss ambassador to the US made the expansive embassy grounds in Washington, DC, a former farm in the Woodley Park neighbourhood, a biodiverse oasis, replacing the manicured lawn with native shrubs and trees to attract and sustain birds and other wildlife, the ambassor’s actions have set a positive example, leading other diplomatic missions to adopt ecologically sounder landscaping practices including vegetable gardens and beehives. More from the Audubon Society at the links above.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

you give me fasciation

Our gratitude to our peripatetic pal Memo of the Air for directing us to this updated re-post from TYWKIWDBI that we managed to miss earlier that gives a little more background on the backstory of a Stevie Nicks’ classic we’ve covered previously by way of contorted, cresting displays of growth in certain kinds of plants, included the celebrated saguaro of central and southwestern North America with wasps, bees and white-winged doves counted among their important daytime pollinators.

Sunday, 1 August 2021


Graced with half a dozen flitting European peacocks (Tagpfauenauge, Aglais io), H got this flowering shrub Buddleja davidii as a present from his colleagues, commonly known as the summer lilac or simply, appropriately a butterfly-bush.  The ornamental plant is native to Hubei in Central China and named after the European missionaries and botanists Reverend Adam Buddle and Father Armand David who first collected and described it for the West, and just put in the ground. With the fragrance of honey and a rich source of nectar for pollinators, the perennial plant flowers in the summertime for six weeks, thriving in more temperate areas to the extent that this opportunistic and “perfect”—as in botanically being both male and female, self-propagating plant is sometimes classed as a noxious weed. We defer judgement to the butterflies, however.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

centaurea nervosa

Though no peonies or poppies (though our late-bloomers might be inspired by these) in the garden just yet, we’ve got quite a nice spread of these thistle-like plants that sprout at the edge of the deck in late spring. Called less charitably knapweed, Flockenblumen or bluets are commonly known as centaury in deference to the centaur Chiron who taught medicinal use of plants to human though Achilles, Aeneas, Asclepius and other Greek heroes. Ranging widely in colour from yellow to purple, the ornamental plant native to the Alps is the source of the colour cornflower blue and is useful alongside agricultural crops as a more appetising food source for insects. The bumblebees and other pollinators absolutely adore them and we are pretty partial to them as well. 


Sunday, 30 May 2021

sunday drive: wasserschloss roรŸrieth and walldorfer-kirchenburg

For what was the first time in a long time, H and I took advantage of the fine and sunny weather and visited a few sights from outdoors on either side of Mellrichtstadt and Meiningen first with the moated castle located within a small farming village of the same name. Existing as the seat of a lordship since the twelfth century before being destroyed for harbouring highwaymen in 1401, the rebuilt sixteenth century compound was in the ownership of the rulers of Ost- and Nordheim until the mediatisation of imperial immediacy at the beginning of the nineteenth century (die Reichsdeputationhauptschluss von 1803) when transferred to the Free State of Bavaria. 

The castle is in private hands and cannot be visited by the surround grounds and agricultural outbuildings were nice to explore. Next we came to the fortified church (see links above) of the town of Walldorf, now a suburb of Meiningen. Originally a medieval defensive Hรถhenberg (a hill castle) along the old trade route from Frankfurt to Erfurt—a good vantage point to monitor for smugglers and other potential disruptions, the complex on the promontory has been an episcopal fort since 1008 when the archbishopric of Wรผrzburg took over the area. 

The high keep with residential structures and a garden was used as a protected farmyard through the ages as it is today, restored after reunification and a fire in 2012 that caused extensive damage. Beyond its historical value as a monument, designs for restoration undertaken and achieved have made it moreover a “biotope church” with a replacement roof optimised for nesting kestrels, a colony of jackdaws (Dohlen), bats, bees that visit the old cottage gardens plus a nesting stork with a young brood.

Thursday, 20 May 2021


While in Europe we don’t have humming birds (Kolibris), we are lucky enough to have these uncanny important pollinators called the fly bee or the humblefly (Wollschweber). Our garden is absolutely full of them but I’ve never managed to capture a picture of one until now when I spied one resting on a flower (see also), which by the end of the season can grow quite substantially and present like their avian cousins but less so than the equally camera-shy Hummingbird Hawk-Moth (Taubenschwรคnzchen) that hovers and has a proboscis for nectaring. We’re visited by them too and maybe if I’m patient, I’ll be able to get a photo.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

a touch of honey

Lampooned first by Mystery Science Theater 3000 on this day back in 1998, the 1967 British horror vehicle directed by Freddie Francis, The Deadly Bees, is sort of a low-budget homage, snowclone of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds with similar tropes and devices and is based off the above titled detective novel by H. F. Heard. A pop singer (played by Suzanna Leigh) suffering from physical and mental exhaustion after a series of shows is sent off to an island cottage for rest and recuperation and finds herself in the midst of an apicultural arms race with two competing beekeepers claiming to have developed a colony of killer bees that they control variously by pheromones and taped recordings of a moth. Well, I’m off to become Lulu. 


Saturday, 8 May 2021


take-away: flatpack pasta designed to morph and fold into containers when cooked  

bogland: photographing the marshes and alluvial plains of Belarus 

baby’s breath: biodegradable face masks blossom into wildflowers  

private issue new age: a soothing 1984 ambient recording that’s a psychoacoustic catalyst designed for release of spiritual and emotional energies 

children’s television workshop: the creators behind Sesame Street’s Teeny Little Super Guy  

forced perspective: giant Bidens and tiny Carters were keeping us awake—an explanation of the confluence of factors via Miss Cellania’s Links 

tableau muet: visualising history and charting epochs with Antoni Jaลผwiล„ski’s “Polish System” 

baibaojia: make your own thread book for safekeeping of sewing items, notions and other small treasures

Saturday, 23 January 2021

abominable mystery

The aptly-named Professor Richard Buggs of Kew Gardens (previously) believes that researchers may be on the cusp to solving the above-named puzzle that Charles Darwin confessed to fellow explorer and scientist Dr Joseph Hooker in an 1879 exchange addressing the unaccountable evolution of the higher plants in recent times to include such apparently rapid innovations as flowers that could undermine his theory and the observed gradual process in the rest of the living world. Though perhaps closer to resolving the unconscionably quick rise of the angiosperms (blossoming species—some two-hundred-thousand in total), the conundrum, which some critics take as evidence of divine intervention, yet defies a full explanation albeit less vexing and cause for awe and appreciation of Nature.

Sunday, 17 January 2021


a perfectly pleasant man but with a name of a bumbling villain from a Charles Dickens novel: the final resting place of Mister and Missus Skeffington Liquorish, via Super Punch 

glass-bottom: a transparent kayak with rainbow LEDs  

a line in the sand: Saudi Arabia plans a one hundred-seventy-kilometre-long belt city of net-zero, walkable communities (see previously and also here)  

beyond the poseidon adventure: the namesake blog reviews the forgettable sequel that came seven years later starring Karl Malden, Michael Caine, Sally Field and Telly Savalas 

 beauty, loss, confusion, hope, division, grace and grandeur: a ten thousand mile photographic essay of in the form of a long, lonesome look at America by Stephen Hiltner—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links 

mother nature: artist Tomรกลก Libertรญny recreates the bust of Nefertiti (previously) in honeycomb with the help of bees

Monday, 24 August 2020

to live alone in the bee-loud glade

Via Kottke, these superlative entries in the macro category for International Garden Photographer of the Year commended us to one recent snapshot that brought to mind William Butler Yeats’ The Lake Isle of Innisfree. What pictures from your garden are you keen to share? Explore an expansive gallery of many more superb and patient, intimate snapshots at the links up top. 

Friday, 26 June 2020


morning edition: artist paints sunrises on newspapers as a dawning juxtaposition to the headlines of the day

free parking: aerial views of grounded planes at the Frankfurter Flughafen—see previously

b&b: designs for a horizontal hive with human sleeping compartment

๐Ÿ‘️๐Ÿ‘„๐Ÿ‘️:the ubiquitous string of emoji signals a tautology

if it ain’t baroque: another in a growing chain of art restoration failures, via Miss Cellania’s Links

2020: a spa odyssey: a day retreat in Caracas inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s aesthetic

Friday, 19 June 2020

royal fanfare or call-and-response

Via Strange Company’s Weekly Link Dump, we learn that Queen Bees direct the hive through a series of tooting, honking and quacking that researchers were able to record, amplify and interpret. Like a flourish of trumpets, the toots herald her presence as she moves around the colony. The quacking comes from matured queens not yet released into society by the workers so as to prevent a power struggle and will continue to toot until the current monarch either abdicates or absconds in a swarm, splitting the hive.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

svetovni dan ฤebel

Born on this day in 1734 (†1773), professionally trained painter become beekeeper to the Viennese Hapsburg court, Anton Janลกa cultivated expert knowledge on their care and maintenance and published authoritative manuals and delivered lectures on apiculture across the Empire in order to maximise their yield of honey and wax and pollination of crops. In addition to the rotation of hives in pastures, Janลกa’s designs for bivouacs with stacked combs (see also) are the still the modern standard today, and since a bid to the United Nations from Slovenia was accepted in 2017, Janลกa’s birthday has been memorialised as World Bee Day.

Sunday, 3 May 2020


horsefly stretches so much time: learning French with these near homonyms that sound like (near) idioms, you know—taon temps tant tends

the lord hardened pharaoh’s heart: as scary as “murder hornets” sound, if they destroy the bees, US agriculture will be in shambles

making muppets: Jim Henson presents a tutorial on creating one’s own puppets in 1969, shortly before the debut of Sesame Street

jukebox: a neural network that’s getting quite good at imitating musical genres and syndicating wholly artificial songs, via Memo of the Air

plastique fantastique: these face shields from Isphere have a certain Avengers’ spy-vibe

do not make me fight you: reminiscent of this montage, stunt choreographer Zoรซ Bell takes on Hollywood

headspace: cranial collages from Edwige Massart and Xavier Wynn

catamaran: this floating shelter in Amsterdam, de Poezenboot, finds new forever homes for our feline friends

www: this was the internet we were promised—why did it take the collapse of civilisation to bring it?

Saturday, 11 April 2020

der honigdieb

Though perhaps best known for his iconic portraits of contemporary celebrities, like this one of Martin Luther that’s become synonymous and defining, the imagination, which takes a rather lurid turn at times, of the painter and printmaker Lucas Cranach the Elder (*1472 – †1553, confusingly from the village of Cronach) also has a legacy worth contemplating—especially after the accusations and misapprehensions that the shock of the naked body in classical and Renaissance art wasn’t some soft smut for the elite with the intrinsic value, patronage and support system not accorded to the prole material made by machine and put out by Pornosec for the masses. We are confronted with this question by a new exhibit in the Compton Verney Gallery in Warwickshire—encapsulated by the some twenty known versions of Cupid complaining to Venus (1526, Venus mit Amor als Honigdieb)—all of which portray the two classical love deities gossiping, nude but Venus naked in a wide-rimmed hat with ostrich plumes and Cupid assailed by bees for having snatched a bit of honeycomb from the apple tree that they’re standing under. The subject was popular enough, based off a bucolic poem by Theocritus called ฮšฮทฯฮนฮฟฮบฮปฮญฯ€ฯ„ฮทฯ‚ (Keriokleptes, same meaning) for Cranach to sell basically two dozen copies with slight variation with Venus laughing off Cupid’s lament and comparing the stings of the provoked bees to his own smitten arrows. One has to wonder what was informed by carnal experience and what was moralising and emendating in his portfolio. Visit the entire collection online at the link above.

Friday, 7 February 2020


multiplicands: an interesting demonstration of an ancient method of numerical decomposition that intuits algorithms base-two number systems

still life with daishi: the exquisite three decades of detailed food diaries of a soba chef

bee space: a look at how apiculture informs architecture

enhance: artificial intelligence applied to an 1896 film upscales the Lumiรจre Brothers’ l’Arrivรฉe d’un train en gare de La Cioatat significantly

mergers and acquisitions: a clip of two Chinese young men lip-syncing the Back Street Boys’ I Want It That Way in 2006 convinced Google it the YouTube platform could be a promising investment

from sack to shift: Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Mondrian-inspired dress (previously), including one for Lady Penelope

Friday, 13 September 2019


alltid รถppet: McDonald’s franchises in Sweden (previously) install insect hotels in their signage and billboards

.xlsx: a concerning amount of scientific research contains data misinterpreted by spreadsheet software

glory to hong kong: protestors create their own anthem and rallying cry

metallic wood: researchers create a porous nickel-based matrix (see also) as strong as titanium though exceedingly light

schism: Pope Francis unafraid of conservative groups calling his leadership too progressive

k2-18ฮฒ: astronomers detect water vapour in the atmosphere of a distant super earth that could harbour life as we know it

gravy train: bug-based pet food better for canine and feline companions and for the environment

Friday, 23 August 2019


The local farmers have really done an outstanding job with creating refuges for bees and other pollinators, going above and beyond the usual fallow fields of crop rotation and cultivating verges of sunflowers and wild flowers—re-wilded to include anything that will take root among which somewhat incongruously is industry-grade hemp. I am told on good authority that because they’re male plants, they would not elicit the most enjoyable experience, though they make a novel sight to behold nonetheless.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

hov lane

Via Design Boom, we learn about a simple but effective intervention that the city of Utrecht has instigated to create sanctuaries—bees stops (Bijstopt), for urban insects by planting grasses and wildflowers on top of bus shelters, some three hundred of them throughout the city. This is a step we could all encourage where we live. Much more to explore at the link above.