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Friday, May 29, 2015

What are ketones?

One of our patrons had heard about ketones in relation to diabetes but wasn’t sure what exactly they were. We weren’t sure either, and while we’re not a substitute for the doctor’s office, we were able to look up some information with the resources available at the library.

Mosby’s Medical Dictionary was the first place we checked. It defines a ketone as a kind of organic chemical produced by “oxidation of secondary alcohols” and then went on to describe its structure. The Diabetes Sourcebook more accessibly defines ketones as “chemical[s] produced where there is a shortage in insulin in the blood and the body breaks down fat for energy.” An excess of ketones in the body can cause ketoacidosis, a dangerous and potentially fatal condition.

The American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes provides more information on ketoacidosis. While it can happen at any time, it’s more likely to occur in times of stress, including sickness and pregnancy. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fruity-smelling breath, and rapid breathing. Ketoacidosis is more of a problem for people with type 1 diabetes, who don’t produce insulin on their own, though it can also affect people with type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, there are tests that can be done at home to check for ketones.

We have several books on diabetes available for borrowing, such as Chris Smith’s Cooking with the Diabetic Chef, Theresa Garnero’s Your First Year with Diabetes, and The New Family Cookbook for People with Diabetes

Friday, May 15, 2015

Where can I buy morel mushrooms?

One of our patrons had a craving for morels but hadn’t been able to find any quality ones while foraging himself. He remembered that Giant Eagle used to sell them but he hadn’t been able to find them there. Rather than continuing to search the groceries – it’s possible that Whole Foods may have them, but their nearest store is in Chagrin – he came to the library to see if we could point him in the right direction.

As it turns out, there’s a thriving community of morel aficionados online. includes a classifieds forum filled with people selling everything from the mushrooms themselves to hand-carved morel-shaped gifts, and many sellers have listed their mushrooms on eBay. However, our patron would rather purchase his morels in person.

A mushroom festival would be one place to find them. Unfortunately, some of the festivals had already passed by. The Shawnee Valley Campground Mushroom Festival in Chillicothe was held from April 30 to May 3, and the Mesick Mushroom Festival in Michigan had run from May 8 to May 10. (Their website already has a countdown to next year’s 57th annual festival, which will run from May 6 to May 8, 2016.)

Eventually, we found the website of the Ohio Mushroom Society, which lists the contact information for all of its board members. Our patron decided to try and get in touch with them to see what information they could provide.

The Newton Falls Public Library has several field guides to help identify mushrooms, including Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms of the World, Peterson’s Field Guide to Mushrooms, and Edible Wild Plants and Useful Herbs. For information on morels alone, Michael Kuo’s Morels is available through CLEVNET. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

How long do bees live?

The answer depends on the bee, not only its species but the role it plays in the hive. Digger bee larvae will survive the winter, and carpenter and mason bees both have one generation a year. Queens bees overall tend to live the longest. The queen is the largest bee, and, after mating, she will spend all her time in the hive laying eggs and being tended by the other workers. According to the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders, young queen bumblebees are the only bumblebees that survive the winter. Queen honeybees can live up to six years, according to Roger A. Morse’s New Complete Guide to Beekeeping, but many beekeepers will replace their queen after a few seasons, with some requeening their colonies every year. A queen will slow down as she ages and start laying eggs erratically. When bees recognize that their queen is no longer laying enough to maintain a healthy colony, they’ll rear a new one from an egg. It takes her sixteen days to develop.

As to the worker bees’ lifespans, it depends on when they are born. A honeybee can live nearly six months in the winter since she’s staying in the warm confines of her hive. In the warmer months, though, when she’s spending most of her time foraging for food, she’ll only live four to six weeks. A worker bee only forages once her life is about half-over. She spends her first few weeks keeping the hive clean, attending to the queen and larva, making honey, building comb, and guarding the hive.

Drones, the only male bees in the colony, have the shortest lives. Their sole purpose is to mate with the queen. If they succeed, they die in the act of mating. If they don’t succeed, they’re kicked out of the hive and left to starve when winter comes, as the worker bees see them as a waste of resources.

For more information on bees, Ross Conrad’s Natural Beekeeping, Howland Blackiston’s Beekeeping for Dummies, and the Firefly Encyclopedia of Insects and Spiders are all available for borrowing here at the Newton Falls Public Library.