Do Bears Really Love Honey?

ronniechua/iStock via Getty Images
ronniechua/iStock via Getty Images

If your experience with bears is largely limited to reading Winnie the Pooh as a kid, you might think that these fuzzy mammals will do anything to get their gigantic paws on a jar of honey. And you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. Author A. A. Milne didn’t pull his depiction of bears as honey-craving maniacs out of thin air. But their culinary tastes go beyond the sweet stuff in the hive.

“Bears do love honey and are attracted to beehives,” Elizabeth Manning, an education specialist for the State of Alaska, wrote for Alaska Fish & Wildlife News. “But unlike in Winnie the Pooh, the bears eat more than just honey. They will also consume the bees and larvae inside the beehive, which are a good source of protein. Both brown and black bears will raid beehives.”

If you’re wondering: Wouldn’t attacking a beehive result in a lots of painful bee stings? The answer is yes. According to the North American Bear Center:

“Bears endure stings to get the prized pupae, larvae, and eggs in the brood comb of a hive. Protective adult bees sting bears’ faces and ears but have a hard time penetrating the fur on the rest of the body. After bears get the brood comb and perhaps some honey, they hurry away and shake bees out of their fur like they shake water.”

In other words: bears think the tradeoff is worth it, which has caused major problems for beekeepers all over the world. In just the first five months of 2018, bears damaged more than 370 beehives throughout Finland and parts of Estonia, forcing Finland's government to shell out $143,000 to farmers whose livelihoods had been destroyed along with their hives.

While many beekeepers incur the cost of surrounding their hives with electric fencing to keep the bears at bay, even the sting of an electric shock isn't enough to deter the most determined bears. Last year in Finland, according to the BBC, a brown bear made its way right past an electric fence to get to two beehives.

After years of being pestered by bears, Ibrahim Sedef—a beekeeper in Turkey—has adopted an if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em approach to dealing with the animals. Realizing that bears might be the most discerning honey-eaters around, he decided to turn the sweet-loving carnivores into voluntary taste testers. He set up four bowls, each one containing a different treat: flower honey, chestnut honey, Anzer honey, and cherry jam (as a decoy) to see if the bears sniffed out a particular favorite. Then he set up a camera and watched as they declared Anzer honey, which is one of the world’s most expensive honeys, to be the winner.

While Sedef estimates that his bear problem has cost him about $10,000 over the years, he can’t stay mad at these furry guys. “Despite all this, when I see the footage, I forget all the harm they have done to me, and love them,” Sedef told The Guardian.

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What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

iStock
iStock

For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to HuffPost, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

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Why Do Tires Have to Be Filled With Air?

BookyBuggy/iStock via Getty Images
BookyBuggy/iStock via Getty Images

Paul Misencik:

This is an issue that has perplexed me for most of my life, because pneumatic tires filled with air seem like the last anachronistic, 19th-century component of a modern automobile, and an idea which should have disappeared many decades ago. In an era where even the internal combustion engine itself is giving way to electric motors, and where a new economy hatchback has exponentially more computing power than the Space Shuttle, pneumatic tires don’t seem to make sense any longer.

(And before I get flamed, I know modern tires are vastly more advanced and reliable and capable than their 1930s counterparts. Blowouts, which were a common occurrence when I was a kid, are pretty much unheard of today. Modern tires are great, but they are still vulnerable and maintenance-intensive in a way that doesn’t make any sense to me.)

Companies have experimented with non-pneumatic passenger vehicle tires in the modern age—one of the primary drivers was Michelin. But the tires weren’t filled with solid rubber. In fact, they didn’t even have sidewalls. They were open on the sides, and they had a support lattice of structural polyester ribs, with a ton of air space between the contact patch and the (now deformable) wheel.

One of the big problems with switching from pneumatic tires to non-pneumatic tires is the fact that the current air-filled tire is an important component of the suspension of a vehicle. The flex in the sidewall is a critical part of the compliance of the suspension and substantially affects a vehicle's ride and handling. (Which is why race car drivers sweat tire pressures at each corner of the vehicle so much, as even a small change in tire pressure can have a big effect on the handling and grip of a vehicle.)

If a company like Michelin wants to make a non-pneumatic tire, they'll improve their chances of finding success with it if the new design mimics the compliance and flex characteristics of the outgoing, air-filled models as closely as possible. That way, Michelin would be able to sell the new, non-pneumatic design as a retrofit to older vehicles whose suspensions were originally designed with pneumatic tires in mind. And that is hugely important because if they can’t, it becomes much more difficult to convince manufacturers to change over to the new design—particularly after the mild debacle of Michelin’s failed “TRX” metric tire idea of the 1980s, which required the use of a special wheel and which, despite being by most accounts a superior design in almost every way, never really took off. (Owners of 1980s Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxers and some Saab 900 turbos will know what I’m talking about here.)

Non-pneumatic Michelin tires are also rather weird looking, and it’s not clear which manufacturers, if any, would take the risk of being the first to offer them on a new car.

So that is the real issue: Any non-pneumatic tire design must be not only clearly superior to the pneumatic designs of the past, but it must be functionally identical to the outgoing models they would replace, and they must be visually acceptable to consumers.

I hope it happens, though. I hope someone cracks the nut. Pneumatic tires are a 19th-century application still being used on 21st-century vehicles, and at some point that needs to change.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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