Local Environment

Success: First time bus adventurer!

Many thanks for Liz Boston for sharing her experiences as a SOLO bus rider travelling between Lacey and Seattle!  A true Rebel; way to go, Liz!  Here are the details: 

 With the cancellation of the SPSCC trip on February 21, 2017 to Klondike National Park in Seattle and no experience yet riding the buses from Lacey to Seattle myself, Mary Williams was so kind to share her advice with me on how to do it on my own.    I thought I would share the details on this ‘guest’ blog posting, in hopes of encouraging others to venture out on their own using public transit between Lacey and Seattle.

 I caught the 605 bus at about 11am in Lacey at the Martin Way Park & Ride, and arrived at Lakewood 512 Park & Ride about 15 minutes before the 594 bus.   It travels through Tacoma on its way to Seattle.   The stop right after the Seattle sports arenas was 4th and Jackson, and someone had pushed the red STOP request button so I just confirmed the location by asking the bus driver.   Got out, used the AMAZING bathrooms that Mary had told me about in the former Union Station that is now Sound Transit owned.   I took photos of the Ladies Room and the station’s waiting room!!  I could just picture ladies in 1920s outfits using the facilities after a long train trip.  Long skirts, big hats.  The Ladies Room even has a row of well-lit full length mirrors still.

 My other goal was to figure the path to Swedish Medical Center on First Hill (Broadway and Marion) for future trips via the First Hill Streetcar.    Bought an adult ORCA card at the kiosk machine at the top of the escalator leading to the bus tunnel (just to the right of Union Station, as you’re exiting). Next I figured out what Inbound and Outbound meant for the First Hill Streetcar (Inbound is toward center/water, outbound is away from center towards First Hill.)   Asked a fellow rider how to use the machine for tapping the ORCA card before boarding.   LOVED the Streetcar, huge windows and a slower pace.   I got out at the Broadway and Marion stop, and found my Swedish destination.    Had lunch, bought some new boots at a specialty shoe store near Swedish (and left the box with the store so it was easier to carry home.)


Then I used the First Hill Streetcar to come back to Union Station and went past to the last stop Occidental and Jackson.   Got out and visited Klondike National Park, it was quite interesting!  Not enough time to spend there, but since its free I’ll visit it again.   Found the stop for Bus 592 –  I didn’t realize it was at 2nd and Yesler , not 4th and Jackson, until I looked carefully at the bus schedule.   Waited 8 minutes.   Took Bus 592 to Lakewood P&R, luckily waited 1 minute for 605 bus back to Lacey.    Total of 2 hours back, not bad for 4:45 departure in rush hour.   And a lot more relaxing than driving.   I am now a public transportation convert!  And look forward to using my ORCA card over and over.     Many thanks to Mary Williams for the directions and encouragement!


For anyone needing to go to either Swedish Medical Center on First Hill (the main hospital, not Cherry Hill) or Virginia Mason Hospital  or the Polyclinic on Broadway,  here are the directions in summary:


  1. Bus 605 from Lacey Park and Ride to Lakewood 512 Park and Ride Transfer station in Lakewood  $3.00
  2. Bus 594 from the Lakewood 512 Park and Ride $3.75 
  3. Get off at 4th and Jackson, the stop after passing Safeco Field. Optional, take a quick restroom break inside the former Union Station building.   Beautiful and clean!
  4. If you need to buy an adult Orca card or refill any Orca card, use the automated machines on the platform there in the International District transfer station.  There is no ticketing or cash taken on the streetcar.
  5. Walk up Jackson to 5th.   Cross half way over Jackson to the long platform/median in the center of the street, which is the stop for the First Hill Streetcar.   Use the Outbound stop.     You wave your Orca card at the reader before or when the streetcar arrives, it’s sort of an honor system.  (I suppose they periodically check passengers somehow.)  $2.25 for a 2 hour ride with as many stops as you want.   $4.50 for the day if you get back on longer than 2 hours later.
  6. To go to Swedish or Virginia Mason, get off at the Broadway and Marion stop and walk to your building.   There are several Swedish Medical Center buildings in that area, and Virginia Mason is about a 3 block walk downhill.
  7. Reverse order to return.  

Optional, on the return trip between 2:30pm and 6:12pm, you can get off streetcar at the last stop, Occidental and Jackson, and walk north  up 2nd Ave to Yesler.   The 592 Express bus picks up there during rush hours in the afternoon – look at the bus stop sign.  It goes directly to the Lakewood 512 Park & Ride without going through Tacoma or any other stops before Lakewood.   A time saver!   But be sure to get out at Lakewood to get your 605 bus back to Lacey, or you could get stuck in Dupont!  Only every other 592 bus continues to Olympia and the 592 buses that do go to Olympia do not stop at the Lacey Park and Ride, only to Hawks Prairie Park & Ride and downtown Olympia.  


Categories: Local Environment

Do worker bumble bees camp out?

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 9:17am
Rusty Burlew is a beekeeper friend who lives in the same county and writes a regular (at least weekly!) blog about bees.  While these days she writes mostly about honey bees, she knows alot about native bees as well.  Anyway, I replied to a recent post of hers about bumble bees -- Honey Bee Suite / Bumble bee answers ... -- and she asked me to elaborate on whether or not worker bumble bees (the colony females who are not queens) stay out at night rather than going home to sleep.  The short answer -- yes -- was not enough for me.  But rather than fill her comment section I decided to add it to our blog roll.  I can't say how broadly this applies to all bumbles -- it is but a single experience.

Bombus melanopygus is a big boldly colored early season bumble common in Olympia (and the maritime Northwest).  She particularly likes old bird houses filled with old bird nests. We’ve recorded queens as early as the third week of January, but the weather has to cooperate and this soggy winter we’ve reached March and not seen a one.  (To illustrate this blog I'm using some older photos of Nancy's.)

The story.  One spring years ago I was asked to move a bumble'd bird house because of its poor location. The box was originally just a birdhouse ornament on an arbor that also supported the mailbox. Occupied one or two years by some bird, then the bumbles found it. This bee house was jostled with each mail delivery and the occupants were unhappy -- pointedly -- about the jostle. So was the Post Office, who notified the owner that she'd have to alter the setup. Thus, one night I corked and bagged the bird bee house and moved it, to our home a mile away. I'd not thought it all through, and being night and all, I just set the box down on the back shed steps intending to mount it later.

A call brought me back the next day, where many bumbles — at least a dozen, (I didn’t count) — were huddled together where their home used to be. The bumbles were homeless, and the colony was deprived of many of its workers. The huddle looked like a big number in a small bumble colony, (though a tiny number for honey bees). I’d moved a box the year before, and that colony failed. With the failure in mind I went home for my insect net intent on returning the homeless bumbles to their community — and that was my third mistake.

The bumbles had lost their home but not their sense of territory. My effort at netting the homeless bumbles was met with mostly empty netting. But I gained personal evidence that the homeless bumbles were queenless WORKERS who, even in the cool of the spring, had slept out at night, and upon returning “home” were defensive enough still to sting, (painfully!).  I'm still not as skilled as I'd like when it comes to distinguishing male from female bumbles, but a sting is definitely gender specific.

My other mistake was I learned that raccoons thought my temporary location was just for them -- low hanging fruit in a pretty wooden box. I'm sure they were stung too, but for them the wax and honey and larvae were no doubt worth the price of admission. If I’d first visited the shed I’d have known that even if had I recaptured the homeless bees, it would have been for naught.

These days, when asked to move a bumble nest, I try to find other solutions.  Unlike honey bees, bumble bee colonies are annual -- only living months -- so mostly I ask folk to be patient.  Usually bumbles do not reuse an old nest site, because wax moths and carpet beetles and a whole array of hungry camp followers consume the nest even as the colony fades once the new queens and drones emerge.  In hindsight, moving the mail box would have been easier -- but if I had done that, there would have been no story to tell.

Here is video made by Nancy a couple of years ago of B. melanopygus in a bird box: Bumbles in a bird nest box (video)

Categories: Local Environment
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