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Don't worry, they won't sting you. They know we're scientists.
My favorite video of the week shows the team here in Costa Rica successfully transferring a bee caught in the field to a specimen jar. It's rather self explanatory so enjoy the clip. Interestingly enough, you can actually take part in one of these adventures . As a corporate expeidtion from a Big Four firm we're doing double duty, handling both the science and a special project to assist the local coffee co-operative. You won't perform the bonus business project which my team is doing, but private individuals can help with the science itself. You need to enjoy the outdoors, and be comfortable with something a little more rustic than a regular tropical vacation. Read the project description on their site to learn more about the adventure. Aside from enjoying the work, you get to essentially live in a community for a week rather than just hover over it like a typical tourist. Two nights left in the mission. It's been great fun so far - we've even toured two coffee mills...
Setting the trap
In my previous post I showed how we took a soil sample from the field and inserted a PVC pipe to start setting our bee trap. I paused that recording as I had to retrieve the most component of our trap: the yellow bowl filled with a bit of soapy water, which is designed to attract and capture bees. This clip shows how it's done. I didn't record a video of the retrieval operation we performed today, as we split up and the other team had the video camera, but I managed to take some stills which you'll soon see, along with an explanation of the challenges we faced. Until then, let's just say it's a good thing we didn't put too much soapy water in our traps.
"Now you look like real field biologists"
Our professor in the field, Dr. Banks, had kind words for us as we started our week of research in the TarrazĂș region of Costa Rica. Armed with a couple of augers, PVC pipes, yellow "party" bowls, bottles of soapy water, insect catching nets, measuring tape, jars, more bags and, of course, several clipboards, we set off into the fields. We were lucky to enjoy a 'soft' introduction to fieldwork: the farm where work started is a relatively easy site for inspecting bee activity and the flowering of coffee plants because it's isolated from patches of rainforest. At sites adjacent to rainforests we'll be conducting more tests - here, on the other hand, we only had to dig for half as many soil samples. This didn't mean the work was a cakewalk - catching bees is not easy for accounting firm staff, and the banana trees' leaves made patches of ground wickedly slippery - tomorrow's sure to be more intense. We completed the adventure without any incidents, even...
La Tortuga arrives
Before you say, "isn't it ironic that you're driving around in an SUV while trying to save the planet," keep in mind that a Honda Civic will not make it up the mountain roads that lead to coffee plantation. La Tortuga, our white tortoise, is a very British Land Rover and the best way to move around an eight person team to our research sites. In this clip, the team arrives at home base, well only half the team arrives - we had additional people from the EarthWatch institute join us on today's journey which meant that we had to be posh and use two vehicles. After the rain, riding on the roof wasn't a wise idea. Nothing exceedingly exciting here - this is a glorified "test" post to make sure our account is working. An archive of better photos is already developing and the team and the "real" worok is only about to begin tomorrow.