Honeybee on a Caryopteris

Honeybee on a Caryopteris

I shot this one at the Ogden Botanical Gardens, too. Neat tongue on this one. This particular flower is wonderful for pollinators. Bumbles, honeybees, and lots of varieties of butterflies seem to flock to it. It blooms in late summer and early fall here in the Rockies and, at least here, just teems with them in the afternoon.

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Honeybee on a Chrysanthemum

Honeybee on a Chrysanthemum

In the fall, I have a really bad habit of being impressed by these very large, very inexpensive plastic pots of ‘mums at Costco. So every year I buy one. And every year, it’s a challenge to figure out where to plant it. And they keep coming back – and hybridizing.

They’re a great flower for pollinators in the fall. Honeybees and that fly that mimics a bee (which one, right? there seem to be more than a few) seem to be the most fond of the ‘mums. But pollinators are pollinators.

The light on this one is a little blasting. Shade’s generally better for good photographs, but I like the shot nonetheless. It always tickles me to see the pollen baskets filling. And a filthy face doesn’t ever hurt.

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Honeybee on a Salvia

Honyebee on a Salvia

I like this one for its depth and almost dreamy quality. Tranquil. The honeybees seem to be attracted to this one although the natives also visit. I don’t have too many shots of bumbles on this particular variety (which is, I think, a locally-created, prettymuch accidental hybrid). Here, salvias of different varieties bloom from mid-summer until the first hard frost. They’re a little aggressive and tend to shove other plants out of the way so they need to be managed a little.

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Honeybee with Asters

Honeybee with Asters

This is one of my favorite shots from last summer. Don’t know if I have a good word to describe…but there are probably a thousand for it. I’ll let you find one.

I printed this on on a 24×36 inch canvas. And it seems a good medium for it. Really looks almost like a painting. Just a worker bee doing what she does. Beautiful.

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Honeybee on a Fameflower

Honeybee on a Fameflower (Phemeranthus calycinus)

Simple pic today. And while the fameflower (I want to call it flamethrower) is really fantastic for attracting pollinators, I have to say…

It’s one of the most frustrating flowers to try to photograph with a bee on it. First, if there’s any wind at all (and I’m talking the merest hint of a titch of a breath) it gets all flappy – wanders all over the place with the wind. And second, because it’s such a light, delicate little thing even the weight of a honeybee drags it down a couple of inches. A bumble will sometimes take it all the way to the ground. So windy or not, the thing is flapping and bouncing around. Not holding still. And that makes it tough. Finally, it opens late and closes early. Much more convenient to shoot at 24/7 flowers. Nonstop.

That said, it’s beautiful. And especially neat when there are several bees on neighboring blossoms. I’ve seen several varieties of bees on it as well as some butterflies. Neat flower.

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St. Valentine’s Honeybee

Honeybee on a Knautia macedonica – called a Mars Midget

This one seemed appropriate for the day. It was shot by thebeegal. She takes marvelous photographs. This was shot in our gardens…well, her gardens. She’s the one with the talent and the one who does all the work. I wrangle the watering systems, am the enabler, and sweat when dumb labor is needed.

In fact, unless I say otherwise, assume that the bee shot you see came from our gardens. They’re pretty neat. Always something going on. There’s not a particular garden style that might describe them, so I coined the term, MMAyhem. Lots going on. Or, more genteel-ly, fireworks in slow motion.

But the bee. Honeybees have a sadly short lifespan/lifecycle. At least for the workers. In the summer, it’s only about six weeks (contrast that with up to seven years for the queen). And you can tell that this one is nearing the end. A couple of the indications are her chewed-up wings and her back there behind her neck having lost a good bit of hair. Makes me sad to see, but also gratified that she’s still pushing along, doing what she does. And still pretty.

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Two in One

Bumble and Honeybee with a Sunflower of Indeterminate Heritage

Two today, both laden with pollen. Before you get too impressed with the bee in flight, you should probably know that I’m muttering about blind pigs and acorns and rolling the dice often enough and other similar aphorisms.

Part of the reason for that is that the depth of focus, when shooting bees, is pretty thin. I’m trying to figure out how to explain this in a way that makes sense and it’s tough because a photo is a two dimensional representation of three dimensions (well, four, if you count that fraction of a second caught).

Imagine a pane of glass about 1/8″ of an inch thick (likely less) that’s about a foot away from your lens and directly perpendicular to it – so you’re looking straight through it. That eighth or sixteenth of an inch of thickness – that’s what is going to be in focus when the shutter snaps.

If you go back to the Hairy Eyeball Bee that I posted on the 8th of this month, you’ll see that only part of the eyeball is in focus. And a bee in profile is a pretty thin thing as it is. But in that shot we lose focus on the legs quickly…and the pollen on her head, just a millimeter or few behind, is blurring. And the closer the target is to the lens, the thinner the depth of focus is cut.

That’s one of the reasons that shooting bees is tough. The other is that they’re always moving. And they’re fast in flight.

SO…all that is to point out that the constraints are pretty awful. Nearly impossible. Meaning that to get a shot of one in flight with another nearly in that same focal plane has very little to do with planning and skill – and much more to do with luck and rolling the dice enough times to make something happen.

But when it does, it’s sure fun.

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Pollenface!

Honeybee loaded up on a Gaillardia Mesa™ Peach

This is one of my favorite shots from last summer. She’s a complete mess and must be in some kind of bee bliss. At least that’s what I’d like to think.

In addition to her outright beauty (and her covered face), a couple of things jump out at me. First that pollen basket is packed! She’s loaded up. Second, notice the pollen on her eye. It’s floating on the tiny hairs there. See the “Hairy Eyeball” post below for a discussion on that. It will end up in the basket, eventually, as she grooms herself.

You’ll be seeing a lot of this particular flower – Gaillardia Mesa™ Peach – if you keep checking back. Besides being gorgeous itself, it is a magnet for all kinds of pollinators. It starts blooming here in the Rockies in mid-summer and just doesn’t stop until a hard frost. And it’s such an interesting background/foreground/midground to shoot at. Complex and varied and beautiful. I’m pretty sure it would look good in your garden, too.

I just love this shot. So many elements of quintessential “honeybee in a flower garden”.

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