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Posts Tagged ‘honeybee’

When I was photographing bees on Monday at Green Spring Gardens, I had no idea that it was the start of Pollinator Week (22-28 June 2020), “an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles,” according to the pollinator.org website. All I knew was that I love bees and enjoy trying to photograph them.

I was reminded of this week’s celebration yesterday in an e-mail from Benjamin, a knowledgeable budding naturalist who is almost certainly the youngest reader of my blog, and his grandmother Ellen (Gem). The two of them were busily making special honey treats to celebrate the week.

A honeybee came buzzing by me as I was attempting to photograph a poppy on Monday. Although the poppy was quite beautiful, I quickly abandoned it and decided that it was more fun to focus on the bee. The bee seemed to have been quite successful in gathering pollen and, as you can see in the first two photos, one of its pollen sacs seemed to be filled to its maximum capacity.

The final photo shows a honeybee at work in a Stokes’ Aster flower (Stokesia laevis) that I spotted in another part of the gardens. If you double-click on the image, you will see little white grains of pollen covering different many parts of the bee’s body.

 

honeybee

honeybee

© 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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I love to watch bees as they gather pollen—they seem so industrious and focused as they systematically work their way through a group of flowers. This honey bee had both of its pollen sacs almost completely filled when I spotted it yesterday on a cone flower in the garden of one of my neighbors, fellow photographer Cindy Dyer.

One of the joys of shooting with a macro lens is that it lets you capture so many fine details, like the pollen grains on the legs of this bee and the slight damage on the trailing edges of the bee’s wings. Bees are also a great subject to practice macro techniques, because they often let you get really close without being spooked and flying away.

honey bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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For a change of pace I decided today to visit Green Spring Gardens, a historical county-run garden that always has lots of beautiful flowers. Some purple poppies were among my favorites. Several of them were in bloom, surrounded by a large number of seed pods. A honey bee and I were attracted to the same flower at the same time—the bee ignored me and busily went about its work.

Purple Poppy

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Flowers and bees have a mutualistic relationship—the flower provides the nectar and the bee assists in pollination. Sometimes, though, bees will circumvent the process by drilling a hole in the side of the flower and gaining access to the nectar without touching the reproductive parts of the flower, a process sometimes called “nectar robbing.”

Last weekend, I encountered this bee, which looks to be a honeybee, repeatedly taking nectar from the side of a Salvia flower. In an earlier posting, I showed that it was a tight fit for a bumblebee to enter the flower from the front, but it nonetheless did its part in pollination. The honeybee apparently decided it was easier to take a shortcut and go directly to the nectar.

honey2_bloghoney1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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While visiting a garden during an event advertised as “A Million Blooms” I looked hard, but didn’t find any bees among the many tulips and other spring flowers. It was a bit ironic that I discovered this honey bee on a bush while waiting for my fellow photographers outside the gift shop of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia after seeing lots and lots of flowers.

I was hand-holding my 180mm macro lens for these shots, so I couldn’t close down the lens too far. In some of the shots, therefore, you can see that the depth of field was pretty narrow. Still, I am happy that I was able to capture some of the beautiful details of this honey bee, one of the first bees that I have observed this spring.

honeybee1_bloghoneybee2a_bloghoneybee3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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