Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Belltower: The bee’s knees

From page A4 | May 06, 2013 |

Near the corner of our house just outside my Zen garden is an oak tree with a hollow in it. It has been home to nut hatches who set up a nest in it. But last year a new tenant took over the hollow space — wild honey bees.

Initially I was worried about the bees, but they haven’t bothered me when I am trimming shrubs in the area. They have done a fantastic job of pollinating my fruit trees, so I have grown to kind of appreciate them. Last summer I had so many plums growing on my Santa Rosa plum tree that I thought about selling them at the farmers market. I had fresh plums for weeks in my lunch. As it was about a dozen went unharvested.

My wife, who listens to NPR, told me the most fascinating story she heard about bees. Each flower has a very slight electrical charge that is detectable by bees. Once a bee enters a flower for its nectar it neutralizes the electrical charge. This informs other bees that the flower has already been used and they buzz along looking for the next opposite charge to neutralize. Who figures this stuff out? How do they measure positive and negative charges on bees and flowers? Information like that is just the bee’s knees.

• • •

My last column generated two items of interest. One has to do with the artist featured at the newly located Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. The principal artist was sculptor Michael Cooper. The person truly surprised and impressed was Ken Deibert, who gathers and organizes the material for our “As We Were” column. Ken, who taught drafting at American River College, went through the master’s program at San Jose Sate University with Michael Cooper. Sometimes it’s just a serendipitous world.

The other item was one I ran across while filing our historical documents after moving into our new building. Last column I wrote about the LED light display on the Oakland Bay Bridge and added in some distance facts about the bridge. One of those factoids was that the tunnel through Yerba Buena Island is 540 feet long.

What I found was a letter from Earl Lee Kelly, director of the state Department of Public Works, to then Mountain Democrat Editor and Publisher Clarence E. Barker, dated Dec. 14, 1935: “I am enclosing herewith two pictures taken on our recent Bay Bridge inspection trip. I trust they will serve as a reminder of a very pleasant journey.”

The photograph is of a large group standing in front of the tunnel works for Yerba Buena Island. The bridge was completed in 1936 and opened for traffic on Nov. 12. Construction had begun in 1933. Three years! The new eastern span replacement began construction in 2002 and is due to open by Labor Day this year. Problems with huge bolts on seismic anchor shear keys have the potential to put off opening the bridge until sometime in 2014.

According to the official Website for the $6.4 billion Bay Bridge construction project, 32 out of 96 bolts cracked while being stressed. There are two fixes to hold the shear keys in place  — a steel collar or a steel saddle. The selection will be made May 8.

The bolts can’t be replaced. The 288 bolts range in length from 9 to 24 feet. When they started tightening 96 to connect the shear keys to the caps, 32 broke.

How this system works in case of an earthquake is best described by the official Website: “The eastern foundation of the self-anchored suspension span contains seismic devices called bearings and shear keys. The bearings allow the road-decks to move slightly during a seismic event, while the shear keys prevent the decks from moving too much. The four bearings (two beneath each deck) and four shear keys (one beneath each deck and two beneath the cross beam connecting the decks) are bolted between the roadways and a concrete cap beam with steel anchor rods.”

It’s the 96 manufactured in 2008 that are problematic.

Some newspapers have pegged the engineering fix at about $1 million.

The self-anchored tower holding up the suspension cables is 525 high. The new east span is 2,047 feet long. The new skyway approach is 1.2 miles long.

The new eastern span is supposed to replace the truss structure where the roadway buckled in several spots and dumped some cars into the bay during the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. So we’ll put our faith in the engineers to make the new span safe and earthquake resistant.

Michael Raffety is edior of the Mountain Democrat.



Michael Raffety



District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17