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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Birds and Bees

No, this is not an article by a pastor on sex education. I’m sure you’re relieved now.

Instead, I want to share with you some of the reasons I have a firm faith in a creator God. It comes from observing nature as it functions every day.

From my childhood I found it simply implausible that life as we experience it on planet Earth could have been an accident. I do not want you to have the mistaken impression that I was raised in the church, learning all the stories about God from the Bible. That didn’t happen. Most of my conclusions were drawn from watching what goes on around me.

There is an ongoing debate over the theories of evolution (there’s more than one) versus the belief on creation. Joining the mix in recent years has been the postulation of “Intelligent Design.” This is something of an adjunct to the creation argument. Regardless of where you stand as to how we homo sapiens and other life forms found ourselves on terra firma, there is not a thinking person alive who does not want to know the answer to this simplest of life’s questions: “Where did I come from?”

I’ve lived in the Central Valley of California for quite a number of years going back to the ‘70s. Getting to know some of the farmers in the area has afforded me the opportunity of learning literally about the birds and bees.

Take bees, for example. These little guys are truly amazing! There are many types of bees – but the one that tickles me most is the bee that isn’t supposed to fly: the bumblebee. I first learned this in a biology class in junior high. My thoughts then were, “Since bumblebees are supposed to be incapable of flying according to the laws of aerodynamic design, then why are they flying?” The bumblebee, with his round body flits around without a care in the world. He doesn’t know that the brightest minds in academia have determined that with the formation and size of the bumblebee body in relation to the size of the wings, he should not be able to fly. Someone forgot to tell the bumblebee.

Now consider the ordinary honeybee. The things they do boggle the mind! They continuously fly to and from the hive in search of water and pollen. When they find either of these much needed basics, they return to the hive, whereupon the rest of the hive’s inhabitants turn and face the returning bee and wait for his report. By performing a dance, the bee reports what he has found (water or pollen); how far away it is; and the exact direction to take from the hive. All the bees protect the queen bee who must be kept in a perfect climactic environment of 90 degrees. This means in the winter they huddle in real close to the queen using the warmth of their tiny bodies to maintain the proper temperature. In the summer, they need to cool the hive down. This requires that the bees find a ready supply of water. This is what they do: They pick up droplets of water, carrying it back to the hive, and with their wings in a blur, they cool the inside of the hive to the required temperature of 90 degrees. Incredible!

Where I live, bees are critical at this time of year. Ripon, California is the “Almond Capital of the World.” For the almond growers to have a successful crop, the bees must pollinate the orchards when the blossoms come out in early February. If the weather is nasty, or cold, or both, the bees will not come out of the hive. Get this! For the bees to come out and pollinate the trees, the outside temperature must be at least 55 degrees. If the temperature is 54 degrees or lower, they stay home in the hive, and the trees are not pollinated, and the growers feel the effects of a poor crop. We should have a great crop this year since the temperatures the past week have been in the 70s!

We typically think of bees and their nasty stingers. But, unless you are perceived as a threat to the bee or the hive, they’ll leave you alone. The stinger is used most often in defense of the hive. At times, an intruder bee will enter the wrong hive, only to be driven out, or stung to death. These little bees are very territorial. The sign reads: No Trespassing or You Die!

Let me conclude with this: Evolution not withstanding, how in the world did bees ever learn to do the amazing things they do? Does this not cry out that there is Someone behind all of this?

Next week I’ll take a look at birds.

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