March 21st, 2012

What Buzzin’ in Your Garden?

bees“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” There is a real debate about who actually made this remark, but it is often attributed to Albert Einstein.  Perhaps this may be an extreme statement, but it emphasizes the importance of this small insect.

I grew up in Cecil County with my siblings and we had a big, big yard, not a lawn. A yard covered with little white clover blossoms that honey bees just loved.  Every summer, our barefoot selves would be stung two or three times.  I always felt bad because I knew the bee died – my mom always told us that when she pulled out the stinger and covered it with baking soda paste.  I moved back to our home several years ago and we still have that big, big yard, not a lawn!  But, I hardly ever see those bees anymore and the clover just doesn’t seem as robust. Why is that?  There’s been buzz in the media about bees disappearing, but what does it all mean?

On Thursday, March 29th, we’re hosting a Science Cafe to answer many of these questions. Katherine Darger, a Master’s candidate from the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, will discuss the importance of bees in your garden. She’ll cover identifying and attracting them, and when to be afraid and when not to.  Although the topic doesn’t encompass the world, our gardens and yards are microcosms of the big picture.  The ecological health of our gardens and our pollinators are indicators of the importance of bees in agriculture and world economics.

Whether you love bees or are terrified of them, they are critical to our world.  And, besides, who doesn’t enjoy that bit of honey in our tea or on a slice of warm homemade bread!!!

Have questions about bees?  Share them here or join us Thursday night to learn more about these fascinating creatures and their role in our lives.

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February 23rd, 2010

Get Answers with AskUsNow!

It’s almost midnight, you have the bio test in the morning, and this is the last concept you need to understand.  You have read the same words describing cell respiration over and over again and just can’t make any sense of them.  Of course, you may have played Zelda a little too long.  What if you could just talk it out, look at it in a different way, and ask a few questions about it?  Do you know that you can?  You can “talk,” or rather chat, with a live person on the web.  Maryland AskUsNow!  is a reference service that you can log onto from the Cecil County Public Library’s website, or any Maryland library’s website, no matter what time of day (or night) it is…24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All you need to do is go to the “Using Your Library” menu tab across the top of the CCPL’S website, and click on “Ask a Librarian” or click here. This site will have all you need to know about the service, including privacy issues.  The fun stuff page even has links that you may find helpful.

When you log on, you can be anonymous or even make up a name if you want.  An e-mail is not necessary, but it may prove to be helpful to access all the information that was given to you during your chat.  A transcript is sent to you after the session has ended. And, if the librarian cannot find the answer within the session or finds more links after you’ve logged off, those are sent to you automatically.

The cool thing is that you may be chatting with someone from Idaho or Oregon or Montana–or even the UK!  Besides librarians, you may be chatting with reference staff from one of the many universities that monitor the service.  So, if you have a complicated math problem, someone from Cal Tech may pick up your question.  An important tip: when you type in your question, be sure to be specific.  For example, if its high school level physics, college level bio, middle school math or an elementary school science fair project, be sure to mention that in your initial question. This way, the person who picks up your question will be the best one to give you the fastest answer!

Anyone with a question, no matter the subject, can get answers. It’s certainly not limited to students.  For example, legal questions are often asked. If the chat librarian is unable to find the answer, the question will be referred to the Maryland State Law Library’s Reference Staff. They do not chat live, but any question that is referred to them is answered promptly by e-mail.

If you haven’t used this service, try it!  AskUsNow! is always available, and Cecil County Public Library’s staff monitors 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Wednesday!