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Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Carpenter Bee’

A bee and a flower—it’s such a simple, yet beautiful composition. I photographed this Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) on a globe thistle flower this past Tuesday in the garden of my neighbor and dear friend Cindy Dyer.

Some folks might suffer a little cognitive dissonance when they look at the flower in the photo and hear the name “globe” thistle. I thought about renaming it “hemisphere thistle” for the purposes of the picture.  🙂

Beauty is everywhere.globe thistle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love bees and spent quite a while on Monday in the garden of my friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer observing them and trying to photograph them. I had no idea that lamb’s ear plants produce flowers, but the bee in the first photo certainly was aware of that fact when I spotted it busily at work. The bee in the second shot decided to try an acrobatic move to gain access to the nectar in the lavender plant that swung wildly each time the bee landed on it. In the final shot, I captured the bee as it was crawling all over a flower of a cool-looking globe thistle plant.

I am not very good at identifying bees, but I think these bees are all Eastern  Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa virginica). Unlike bumblebees that have fuzzy abdomens, carpenter bees have shiny, relatively hairless abdomens.

 

lamb's ear

lavender

globe thistle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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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Sometimes, simple compositions of familiar subjects result in the best images, like this recent shot of an Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) on a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

It came out just as I imagined when I was looking through the viewfinder of my camera and required a minimum amount of tweaking and no cropping.

At times, it’s not complicated.

bee_cone_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do your review your photos rapidly before you choose the ones to post or do you carefully and systematically evaluate them and only then select the best ones?

I am often in a hurry.  Sometimes I will stop to work on a shot that I like before I have even reviewed the complete set of images. I generally  don’t work up postings in advance and I’ll write up the posting and push the “Publish” button with out realizing that I may have unmined gold waiting to be discovered.

Only later, when I go through the entire set of shots do I realize that I have a better shot than the one I posted and realize I should have at least posted both of them. If the differences are only minor, I won’t do an additional posting, but sometimes, like today, I feel compelled to post a second image.

As was the case in yesterday’s posting, this is a shot of what I think is an Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)—or possibly a bumblebee— on a Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). The angle and the lighting helped me capture a significant amount of the detail and texture of both the bee and the flower and the colors came through with a beautiful vibrancy. The bee was in an unusual position, which adds to the visual interest of the image.

This is one of my favorites of my recent images. You might think that this experience will teach me a lesson about the value of a full review before choosing images to process, but I suspect that this will happen again from time to time. I know my habits too well.

bee2cone_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day, but it was very breezy, which made it tough for me to get decent shots of bees in my neighbors’ garden. I am still going through my photos (and deleting a lot of them), but I was immediately drawn to this image of an Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) on a Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

Although the dark background suggests the use of flash, I wasn’t using any flash and the shutter speed of 1/400 in the EXIF data is faster than the synch speed of my flash. I was trying to get as close to the bees as I could and the height of the coneflowers made it possible to get at eye level with the bee and get this head-on shot.

bee1_cone_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Within minutes of seeing the elegant honey bee that I featured in a recent posting, I encountered this Eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica), which is built more like a sumo wrestler than a dancer, especially when viewed face-to-face, as in the second image below.

 

carpenter1_blog

carpenter2_blog

© 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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It was a dark and cloudy afternoon and the rain was threatening to start at any moment (and eventually did). Even my usual grasshoppers and spiders seemed to have disappeared from sight. I was losing hope that I would find anything interesting to photograph when I stumbled upon a large bee on a bright yellow plant.

It looked like a carpenter bee, but the eyes were unusually light in color. I am pretty sure that it is an Eastern Carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) and the white patch on the face indicates that it is a male. There are other photos on-line of carpenter bees with green eyes, but I am not sure how common it is to find one like this. I don’t recall ever seeing one like it before.

Male Eastern Carpenter bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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