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Posts Tagged ‘bee’

Flowers are beautiful, of course, but when it comes to taking photos, I seem to be equally (or more) attracted to insects among the flowers. Yesterday we finally had some sunshine here in Northern Virginia after three soggy days in a row and I made a trip to Green Spring Gardens with my mentor Cindy Dyer to check out the flowers in bloom.

The wind was blowing most of the afternoon, which turned many of the flowers into moving targets, but patience and persistence allowed me to get some shots of some of my favorites, like love-in-a-mist and columbines. I am still going through my images, but I was immediately attracted to this shot of a bee in flight that I captured as it moved from one iris to another.

I remember being a little surprised to see a bee gathering pollen from irises—there seemed to be much candidates nearby, including some large, showy peonies. The bee didn’t spend long in each iris and the long petals of the iris often hid the bee from view. As I was tracking the bee, I somehow managed to maintain focus and captured this whimsical little shot of it in mid-air. My shutter speed of 1/640 sec was not fast enough to freeze the wings, but I really like the blur of the wings, which enhances the sense of motion for me.

bee and iris

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Do bees drink water? As I was investigating the ponds at Green Spring Gardens again yesterday for signs of dragonflies, I spotted some bees landing in the shallow water. It looked like they were getting drinks of water, but I wondered if it was possible that they were somehow gathering nectar and/or pollen.

I did a little research and found out that bees do in fact drink water. One article at honeybeesuite.com described some of the reasons why bees bring water back to the hive. It also noted that, “Bees seem to prefer water that has some growth in it—such as green slime—rather than perfectly clean water.” and speculated that the bees can smell the growth and recognize it as a water source. That was certainly the case at the pond yesterday, where the water had all kinds of green gunk growing on it.

honey bee

© 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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Photography seems so complicated when I worry too much about lighting, camera settings, and a myriad of other technical concerns. It’s nice sometimes to put those cares in the back of my mind and just shoot as I did yesterday—me, my camera, a bee, and a flower.

It can be that simple and that enjoyable.

bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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While I was in Blacklick, Ohio (just outside of Columbus) this past weekend, I had a chance to observe and photograph the beehive of the folks with whom I was staying. They offered to let me wear a beekeeper suit, but I declined and instead got up close and personal with some of the bees. In these images, a bee was licking up some syrup that had dripped down the side of the hive structure.

bee

bee

© 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.

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© 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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