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Posts Tagged ‘bees’

When it comes to mating, many male insects are really aggressive—they will do everything they can to prevent their rivals from hooking us with a desirable female. I think that is what was going on in this image I captured on Sunday of three bees outside of a bee house in the garden of my friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer. It looks to me that the top bee in this ménage à trois was trying to dislodge a rival and somehow gain access to the female. Yes, as the old song simply states, “birds do it, bees do it.”

Perhaps you have a better explanation of what was transpiring, like they were simply playing piggyback and wanted to see how strong the bottom bee was. What do you think? I encourage you to click on the image to see the details better.

I often tell you that I was not as close as it seems, because I generally shoot with a telephoto lens or a long macro lens. In this case, though, I was shooting with a 60mm macro lens and was only a few inches away from the “action” and had to dodge bees that were entering and exiting the tubes of the bee house.

bees

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s still a little too early for dragonflies, but I did find some cool little bees yesterday afternoon at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia, a county-run historical garden not far from where I live. Longtime readers of the blog know that I love taking macro photographs and during summer months my trusty Tamron 180mm macro lens is on my camera most of the time.

Yesterday I decided to dust off my macro lens and search for insects. For most of the afternoon I came up empty-handed, but then I spotted a few bees gathering pollen. They kind of look like honey bees, but I don’t remember honey bees being that small. Grape Hyacinths (g. Muscari) are only a couple of inches tall and the first photo gives you an idea of the size of the bees.

Spring is finally here and I look for an explosion of insects soon. During this transitional time of the year I expect to be switching back and forth between my telephoto zoom lens, primarily for birds, and my macro lens, primarily for flowers and insects.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Despite this summer’s scorching heat and high humidity, the bees of Green Spring Gardens were busy at work gathering pollen and sipping nectar during a recent visit to the gardens. I’m certainly no expert on bees, but it looks like there are several different varieties in the photos below.

I’m pretty confident that the bee in the final shot is a carpenter bee because its abdomen is bare and shiny, unlike that of the bumblebee, which has a hairy abdomen. If you look closely at that image, you’ll see that this bee appears to be a nectar robber—it is piercing the flower from the side to extract the nectar and thereby is not playing any role in pollinating the flower.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I have my macro lens on my camera I seem to be irresistibly drawn to bees, like bees to honey. No matter what else I am shooting during the summer, I always seem to have some images of bees interspersed among my other photos. Here are some of my recent favorite bee shots.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Bees were one of my initial subjects when I started photographing insects six months ago. Even now,  I can’t resist snapping a few shots whenever I see them. I never expected to encounter them in late October, however, so it was a nice surprise yesterday, when I was able to capture these images of bees at work (and a skipper too).

Bee in the fall with a single flower

Bee in the fall with multiple flowers

Skipper in the fall

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am out of town at the moment and took along my Canon PowerShot A620, a somewhat glorified point-and-shoot camera. I had used this before for travel photos, but had never tried out the macro features of the camera. The manual claims that in macro mode you can get as close as 1 cm (.4 inches).

I decided to play around with macro on this camera by taking some shots of bees, one of my favorite subjects. The first photo is one of a bee taken straight on and I am surprised that I got the detail that I did. The other shots are pretty good as well. I would note that I had to get really close to the bees to get these shots. I also am feeling a little hamstrung, because I am producing these images on a netbook computer with somewhat limited capabilities and I am using Paint.Net to manipulate the images rather than PhotoShop or PhotoShop Elements.

Eye-to-eye with a bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Bees were the very first insects that I tried to photograph close up when I got interested in macro photography a few month ago. (You might say I followed the advice of Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music when she said, “Let’s start at the very bee-ginning, it’s a very good place to start.”) It was a challenge without a macro lens but I managed to get some pretty good results by shooting at the extreme end of the focusing capability of my digital SLR.

Since that time I have “graduated” to a macro lens and to more exotic insects, but from time to time I am drawn back to the bees. Today, for example, as I was reviewing  images from a session that included colorful butterflies and dragonflies, I realized there were also a few images of bees that I wanted to share.

Most of the time I try to feature a single photo in my postings, but tonight I couldn’t make up my mind. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet I was caught up in an internal struggle, “Two bees or not two bees, that is the question.”  I’m including them both—I don’t want to decide which is better.

As I end this post, the words of an old Carly Simon song come to mind, “Nobody does it better…bee-bee you’re the best.”

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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