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Posts Tagged ‘bumblebee’

How much pollen can a bee transport at one time? As it circled the inside of a sunflower, this bee filled the pollen baskets on its hind legs with so much bright yellow pollen that I was afraid it would not be able to lift off and fly away. In addition to the very full pollen baskets, which looked like cotton candy to me, the bee was virtually covered with grains of pollen. My fears proved to be unfounded, and the overladen bee was able to carry away its golden treasure.

I think this bee is a bumblebee, though I am no expert on the subject of bees. According to Wikipedia, certain species of bees, including bumblebees and honeybees, have pollen baskets (also known as corbiculae) that are used to harvest pollen. Other bee species have scopae (Latin for “brooms”), which are usually just a mass of hair on the hind legs that are used to transport pollen.

bee pollen

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although it is already October and the weather is getting cooler, the local bees have not yet called it quits for the season. I am not sure what kind of purple flower this is, but the bumblebee was busily burrowing its head into its open blossoms.

I was happy to be able to catch the bee in action, capturing an “artsy” image of the moment.

October bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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With rain and gray skies that started today, I feel the need to compensate with some bright colors, so I thought I’d post an image from this past weekend. I love the way that it looks like this bumblebee is clinging to a rolling red ball, which, of course, is merely the center of a flower in the garden of my neighbor and fellow photographer Cindy Dyer.

bee_fall_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the advantages to living in a relatively southern state is that summer lingers on for a bit longer and flowers continue to bloom. As long as there are flowers blooming, bees continue in their efforts to gather pollen,

I am not sure what flower this is, but it was blooming in the garden of one of my neighbors, Cindy Dyer, a fellow photographer and blogger. She plants her garden with an eye toward plants that will photograph well and when I have a few minutes to spare, I enjoy making a quick trip to her garden to see what is blooming.

When I first spotted it, I had this mental picture of the bee working in the center of the flower, surrounded by a protective little fence.  I tried to frame the shot with that picture in mind and chose an angle that emphasized the “fence.”

Sep_bee_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although it is already September and signs of autumn are starting to appear, bees continue to be as busy as ever. The blooming morning glory flowers in my neighbors’ garden attracted a bee’s attention early yesterday morning and I got these shots as it tried to figure out the optimal strategy for gathering pollen.

glory2_blogglory3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The sunflower was big enough that an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) and a bumblebee could peacefully coexist, though it looks like they had each carved out their individual spheres of influence and kept a respectful distance from each other.

coexistence_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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How do you approach each day? Do you embrace it with all of your energy, like this bumblebee seems to be doing as it leaps into a patch of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)? Most mornings, my body needs the stimulation of coffee and bright colors like those in this photo have the same effect in awakening my other senses.

I had never seen Butterfly Weed until a few days ago, when I encountered it at a local garden, and I was immediately captivated by its vibrant color. According to Wikipedia, it is a species of milkweed native to North America that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds (and obviously bees too).

I love the unusual position of this bee. It looks like he is skydiving, gliding through the air.

orange_bee_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It doesn’t get much more simple or more beautiful than this—a fuzzy bumblebee on a Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea).

I got as close as I could with my macro lens, eye-to-eye with the bee, and managed to capture some of the incredible details and colors of both the flower and the bee. Except for a minor amount of cropping and tweaking, this is pretty much what the image looked like when I first pulled it up on my computer.

It’s enjoyable to chase after more exotic creatures and environments to photograph, but it is reassuring to know that beauty is never far away—it is present in the ordinary.

big_bee_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The response was so positive to my recently posted photos of a bee on a lavender plant that I decided to post a couple more of my favorite images from that session. Unlike my previous shots that attempted to capture a bee in flight, these ones were taken while the bee was busily working. The light was starting to fade, so both of these were shot with my pop-up flash and I am happy that the flash did not totally blow out the highlights.

Using flash is an area that I have not paid much attention to, but it looks like it’s worth spending some time learning more about it and experimenting with different ways of adding additional light to my photos.

top_blogmist_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Have you ever tried to take photos of a bee in flight? In the past, I have managed to get a few such shots accidentally, when a bee took off as I was shooting.

However, a few days ago when the light was fading in the early evening, I decided to try to photograph a bee in flight using my pop-up flash. I knew that timing would be critical, because the time required for the flash to recycle meant that I would get only one shot each attempt, and not a burst. It was a fun little challenge, even though most of my shots were out of focus.

I especially like the first image, in which the bee appears to be attempting to hover in mid-air. The second shot makes it look like the bee was free-falling, waiting for the optimal moment to deploy his tiny parachute.

It’s easy to get ultra-serious about photography and get bogged down thinking of settings and exposures and composition—it’s nice sometimes to just have fun and then share the results of the fun time.

hover_bee_blogjump_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When I get the urge to take some photos and don’t have much time, I like to walk over to a neighbor’s house and take photos of the bees that are usually buzzing around the lavender plants there.

A little over a week ago, I did a posting that had a super close-up shot of a bee. Today’s shot was taken from farther away and has the blurry background that I really like, with the bee still in pretty sharp focus in the foreground.  I like the way that the image shows the way the lavender droops a little from the weight of the bee and I also like the the second stalk of lavender standing tall in the mid-range area of the shot.

It’s a pretty simple composition, but the result is a pleasing image of a bee happily at work.

double_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This bumblebee seems to be cleaning or adjusting one of his antennae and it caused me to wonder why. What are the antennae used for? Bumblebee.org had the answer—the antennae are used for smelling and touching. Taste and smell are conveyed to the bee through tiny hairs on the antennae.

Amazingly, bumblebees have a built-in antenna cleaner on each front leg, a notch between the metatarsus and the tibia. As bumblebee.org describes it, “The antenna is inserted into the notch then the metatarsus is bent enclosing the antenna. The antenna is then pulled through the notch and any debris or pollen is caught on the comb fringing the notch.” That site has lots more great information on the bumblebee, including electron microscope photos of the bee and a diagram of the antenna cleaner.

Bumblebee grooming an antenna

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I did a posting on a couple of interactions between birds of two species, a heron and a goose. Continuing on the same theme, here is a photo from last weekend of an interaction between insects of two species, a bumblebee and a Spotted Cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata). The beetle was already on the flower when the bumblebee arrived. Looking at the size of the invader, the beetle seems to have decided that a strategic retreat was the best course of action.

Interesting insect interaction

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last weekend was warm and sunny and the bees were very active again after a period of cold weather and little activity. In a short period of time I was able to see (and photograph) several different varieties of bees. In addition to the familiar honeybees and bumblebees, I encountered what I thought was a new kind of bee.

Well, actually, it looked more like a hover fly (or flower fly), but the coloration was different. (Check out one of my earlier postings to see a photo of a hover fly.)  The unknown insect, featured in the third photograph below, acted a lot like a bee, buzzing from flower to flower feeding on nectar or pollen. I am still not completely certain about its identification, but it looks like it might be a Yellowjacket Hover Fly (Milesia virginiensis), a mimic for the Southern Yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa), according to information at Bugguide.

The weather has turned cold again and I may not see these insects again until spring, but it was nice to have an encore performance before the show is closed for the season.

Honeybee in November

Bumblebee in November

Yellowjacket Hover Fly in November

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I returned to my photographic roots at Green Spring Gardens, a county-run historic park, to shoot flowers and bugs, the subjects I started with six months ago when Cindy Dyer, my mentor and muse, helped me get serious about my photography. It was cloudy and cool (about 47 degrees F (8.3 degrees C) and I didn’t expect to see many insects active. There was quite a variety of flowers blooming, including many that have been present all summer. Perhaps when we have a hard freeze, some of them will die off, but for now they provide a blast of bright color that contrasts with the now fading fall foliage.

Bee in early November

I was surprised when I encountered this bee, the only one that I saw all day. It seemed to be moving slowly in the colder weather, but was industriously working on this purple flower. Judging from its relatively hairless abdomen, I think that this might be a carpenter bee rather than a bumblebee, though I am not completely sure about the identification.

I have always mentally associated bees with spring, but now, as I look more closely at nature, I realize that I have to question all of my previous assumptions. That’s probably a good thing for me to do regularly, and not just in my photography.

Bee working in the cold

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some bees are hairy and some bees are really hairy.

Seriously, this bee looks like he could use a beauty makeover. At a minimum he needs a trip to a barber or hair stylist to trim away some of that excess hair. Look at his legs, his forehead, and his neckline. Yikes! The worst area may be the swirly hair on his back. I haven’t seen anything that bad since the days when the comb-over was a popular hair style.

Maybe he is wearing his hair long to conceal the fact that he is going thin on his back. If that’s the case, I have news for you, Mr. Bee. “You’re not fooling anyone.”  It’s time to get with modern styles, perhaps, and shave it all off.

What would a bald bee look like?

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bee…

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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