September and Busy!

I realized I haven't managed to post anything for a while. I have been busy this month. Well, I was busy, then I had the flu-from-hell, and then I was busy. The new semester has started, which has brought hoardes of undergrads... scantily-clad undergrads. The Sunday before classes started, I went in to feed my bees and nearly ran over a group of girls walking around in bikinis. This is the desert. Its not like there's a beach nearby. Sure, its hot outside, but seriously. Sadly the bikini bottoms are more modest than the tight little shorts the girls also wear. It makes me feel old because my first response is to yell, "Get some damned clothes on." Of course today in the lab, one of the PhD students made a joke about a cartoon from the mid-80's and all the undergrads were like, "What? I wasn't even born then."

Being a cranky old lady aside, my experiment has been running well. We finally worked out some of the procedural kinks and I figured out a nice way to keep the foraging bees motivated without making the colony suffer. Did I mention I managed to kill off a colony? Yeah, bees don't do well on persistently crappy food. Now I'm rotating the colonies between awesome food (when I'm not testing them), and moderately crappy food (when I am testing them). So that works out to moving between 50% sugar solution and 15% sugar solution (by volume)

The picture is of a bee on a training slide (a photo-op bee). They are choosing between different colors, which are covered with microscope slides. The little diamond is just a target for the bee- where the drop of sugar solution reward is found.

So we tested our 26th bee today. I think it is a decent number considering each bee has to make 80 choices... about 4 hours of work per bee. I'm aiming for 120 bees, so hopefully it doesn't take too horribly long. I already have the next experiment designed, and it is super nifty also. Its much shorter (2 months in duration), but addresses a much simpler set of questions. And it will be fun to do.

So, working hard. I'll have to write separately on the other bee schemes I have going. Plus my gardening schemes. And writing schemes. And travel schemes. So many schemes, so little time.


Tripletmom said...

Sorry you were sick, and glad you are doing better! Ugh, I don't even want to think about the flu.

What a nice bee to smile for your photo. :)

Good luck with the experiments!!!

Milja said...

Thanks! I'm happy to be feeling better- they thought it was H1N1 flu so I was locked up at home for 5 days. My own personal quarantine. Miserable all the way around.

Tripletmom said...

I figured they thought it was H1N1. That is what is prevalent right now... CDC is saying that is the ONLY flu that was still active as of a couple of weeks ago. Oh, man... I hope you had someone to bring you food!!!

Milja said...

Thankfully I had *just* gone grocery shopping. Otherwise I would have really been in trouble. Although I guess enough groceries deliver around here. I'm now trying to keep some frozen things and spaghetti sauce around just in case. It was a nasty flu though- high fever for days. Blech.

I hope your family stays clear of it.

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