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Archive for the ‘Bees’ Category

Did you know that some bees have green speckled eyes? I was really startled by the brightness of this bee’s eyes as I was taking its photo last Monday while exploring in Prince William County, Virginia. Some research on-line revealed that this is a male Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica).

I was pretty sure that I had never before seen a bee like this, but I was wrong. As I was preparing this posting, I discovered that I had seen a similar bee in October 2012 and published a posting entitled “Green-eyed Eastern Carpenter bee.” Wow. It’s been a long time between sightings, so maybe I can be forgiven for having forgotten about the previous time, though at my age I can simply claim that I had a “senior moment.” Ages has its privileges.

Eastern Carpenter Bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although the temperatures were cool on Tuesday afternoon, this little bee was busy in the garden of my neighbor and friend Cindy Dyer. The plant on which the bee was feeding technically bight be considered to be a weed, and not a flower, but the bee surely did not mind.

Most of the pollen that I am used to seeing is bright yellow, but in this case it appeared to red in color. As you can see in the second photo, the bee was using a headfirst approach—for extended periods of time it would bury its head among the small petals of this plant.

I went searching around on internet trying to identify the plant and I think it might be Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule). I would welcome a confirmation or correction of this identification by someone more familiar with flowers than I am.

bee

bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the highlights of my visit on Monday to Green Spring Gardens was photographing a blossoming Japanese Apricot tree (Prunus mume). It was a little strange to see a tree with blossoms during the winter, but apparently it is normal for this species to blossom in mid-winter and late winter. The flowers are commonly known as plum blossoms and are a frequent theme in traditional painting in China and in other East Asian countries—the blossoms were also a favorite with the honey bees.

According to Wikipedia, the plum blossom is “one of the most beloved flowers in China and has been frequently depicted in Chinese art and poetry for centuries. The plum blossom is seen as a symbol of winter and a harbinger of spring. The blossoms are so beloved because they are viewed as blooming most vibrantly amidst the winter snow, exuding an ethereal elegance, while their fragrance is noticed to still subtly pervade the air at even the coldest times of the year. Therefore, the plum blossom came to symbolize perseverance and hope, as well as beauty, purity, and the transitoriness of life.”

I do not use my macro lens very much during the winter months and usually leave it at home. However, the mild weather that we have been having made me suspect that some flowers would be in bloom, so I put the macro lens on my camera—the busy bees turned out to be a big bonus.

I especially admired the efforts of the bee in the first photo. This bee did not want to wait for the bud to open, but instead burrowed its way to the pollen-filled center of the blossom-to-be.

Japanese Apricot tree

Japanese Apricot tree

Japanese Apricot tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This winter has been usually mild and spring color is already starting to appear in our area. During a visit yesterday to Green Spring Gardens, a local county-run historical garden, I spotted crocuses in bloom at several locations. Finding crocuses was not too much of a surprise, since they are usually among the first flowers to appear each spring.  However, it was an unexpected bonus to be able to photograph a honey bee collecting pollen inside of one of the crocuses.

In many ways yesterday’s photography was a return to my roots. When I started getting more serious about photography seven years ago, I did a lot of shooting with my friend and mentor, Cindy Dyer. One of her many areas of specialization is macro photography of flowers and some of her flower images have even appeared on US postage stamps. From her I learned a lot about the technical aspects of photography, like composition and depth of field, but more importantly she encouraged and inspired me back then and continues to do so to this day. Thanks, Cindy.

I started off photographing flowers with a few insects, but gradually realized that I was more interested in shooting insects with a few flowers. I can appreciate the beauty of the crocuses in the second and third images below, but the first shot is more representative of my desired shooting style.

crocus

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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With all of the hot weather we have been having recently, I have absolutely no desire to be as busy as a bee. I spotted this bee busily at work this past Tuesday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Temperatures in our area are forecast to rise to 100 degrees (38 degrees C) today and the high humidity will make it feel even more intolerable. I will probably spend most of the days indoors, but fortunately I have plenty of recent photos in reserve that I can process and post.

This image is the kind of simple shot that I really like. I remember my sense of wonder the first time I used a macro lens and I still feel excitement when I immerse myself in the details that a macro lens reveals.

bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I love to photograph bees and realize that I have not featured one for quite some time. I captured this image of one as it perched on some pickerelweed this past weekend at Ben Brenman Park in Alexandria, VA.

In many ways, this image is as much about the flowering plant as it is about the bee. It speaks to me of the interaction between those two main subjects.

For me, photographing nature is about balancing the depiction of the small details, as I often do, with the “bigger” picture—the framing of this shot helps to give the viewer a better sense of the environment than if I had done an extreme close-up shot of the bee itself.

bee and pickerelweed

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most folks are familiar with the comic book hero the Green Hornet, but have you ever seen a green bee? I don’t see them very often, so I was pretty excited to spot this one in some flowers last weekend at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I think this kind of bee is generally known as a metallic green sweat bee and is of the genus Agapostemon.

green bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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