Bee Still

The title is somewhat of a joke because these bees are anything but still. They are constantly in motion–eating, climbing, digging, flying. It can present some unique challenges if you are focusing and shooting manually on a fixed lens. My fingers are also constantly moving to keep up with the bees. It makes sense to me that they need to eat something so high in glucose and fructose, like nectar, because that level of activity requires a steady supply of quick energy, and nothing is quicker than pure sugar.

I saw a few different types of bees yesterday. They are less common to see than the bumblebees. They tend to hold a bit more still, but they’re more anxious and I can’t get as close to them. I’m not sure of their names, but this one looks like a wasp species. It has a sleek black body and beautiful midnight blue markings on its wings.

The bumblebees are docile and generally they will not sting unless provoked. These other bees are less predictable. I also saw a common honeybee. At least, that is what it looks like to me. Again, this bee held a bit more still, but I didn’t get as close because these bees are more anxious.

I have a hunch that this next bee isn’t a bee at all. I think it’s one of those insects that just looks like a bee. This is where nature really gets interesting to me … this species has an advantage because of the way it looks! Predators are less likely to eat it because they think it’s a bee.

I don’t think it is a real bumblebee because it has no stinger. It has the same shape and fuzziness, but the color is a bit different and I don’t see a stinger, like I see here …

The bees are fascinating. I have several images for a black and white series too. I may go back again tonight.

The End

124 thoughts on “Bee Still

  1. I know how difficult to catch a bee into a photo. It’s like that a heavy-weight class boxer chases a running chicken. And both would make you a great improvement in skills.
    There are some kind of flies fond of nectar. They go to a flower instead of perished food. And they look much like bees…I like them, because they give me the hope, “A fly will turn into a bee someday, if it keep loving beautiful things.”

    • Yes, there are flies and many other insects that imitate. It’s very interesting. Even the markings on certain moth and butterfly species are just so surreal. The design itself is somehow timeless and spiritual, for me anyway.

    • Thank you! I have been stung, but not by a bumblebee, and not while photographing them at this location. The little wasps are the ones who like to sting me. Bumblebees are docile. I mean, they definitely CAN sting, and they have the ability to sting multiple times, so you definitely don’t want to provoke them or mess with their nests.

  2. Please tell me which lens is this!! And since you say you’ve gone manual all the way, I must say its some really amazing work!! Oh by the way, I love the fella with the blue shade on his wings….awesome stuff!

    • Hi there. I use a Nikkor 40mm F 2.8. I can’t say enough about this lens. I absolutely love it. Great for macro, but I also use it for portraits, landscape, and pretty much everything else. It’s not an expensive lens, either–about $300. It does have built-in AF, but I have always focused manually. It can be tricky to focus (most fixed lenses are), but if you shoot enough with it than you just get used to it. I highly recommend it! 🙂

      • Hehe…yeah yeah!! I know what you mean! Ive got the 50mm lens, and its done me superb on the one wedding i was assigned as a “candid photographer”! But yeah…im not a big fan of the manual focussing…yet! 😛

  3. Jennifer – nice work!! Pictures are truly great and your words present a whole new perspective on the bee. I like you chatty style of writing. It reminds me of one of my students of long ago – very pleasant, very open, very friendly. Thank your for opening your world for others to see. Keep up the good work!!!

  4. Beautiful Photos, I love the black bodied bee, those blue colours are amazing in its wings. My parents keep bees and I love to just watch them as they journey around and you have captured them wonderfully.

  5. Awesome images of bees. I have attempted to take photographs of bees, and this has been a challenge as they move around so fast.

    • Hey, Alex. Yes, they are on the move and very active! I am usually really tired after photographing them. I have even had to skip the gym, and I never skip the gym! 😀

      • I have taken something like a hundred digital photographs to be left with one image approaching reasonable of the bee, so yes I can identify with your exhaustion from chasing those bees around 🙂

      • i figured you were not, but i do find that life fascinating as well 🙂 – and i fully agree we could learn a lot from our nectar-loving friends. have you seen the film “vanishing of the bees?” you may enjoy it! also what made me want to secretly wish i was a beekeeper!

  6. You have some absolutely wonderful photos on your site. I LOVE the bees. They are such important and amazing creatures. Your photography reminds me of a perpetual Spring…AWESOME!! Thanks for sharing…

  7. Your mystery bee is in fact a bumblebee, but it is a male, so it lacks a stinger (stingers are modified ovipositors, so only females have them). It is probably Bombus borealis or Bombus fervidus, hard to tell without a face shot.

    • Thanks for the info! Now I will have a better idea of what I am looking at. I have only seen a few of those males out and about. The others, with visible looking stingers, are much more common.

  8. someone i know has a bee hive in her backyard (protected, of course). never been there but heard her bees have been reproducing so the number has grown exponentially! though people think growing bees as a hobby might take a lot of work, it seems like it could be a good thing. She only got stung once! And Einstein said the world will end when the bees go extinct, so we should appreciate bees a bit more than we do 🙂

    • That is neat! Who knows? Maybe I will try beekeeping at some point. I love bumblebees, though. Honeybees are nice too, but there’s something about the bumblebee that reminds me of childhood. 🙂

  9. oh, i am afraid of bees,, honestly, i am not really good friends with bees,,, i’m an apiphobic… but your photos did justice to how i feel about them…. i have conquered my fear through your photos…. at least.. 🙂 nice job!

    • I imagine they are a common phobia and you are not alone! The bumblebees really are quite docile, though. I’m not crazy about wasps. But I recently got stung by one too. They love to sting me. Haters! 😀

    • Thanks, wildstar! 🙂 Yeah, they are challenging to photograph, and then you have all the other issues to deal with too–like getting close but not too close so that they feel threatened. I have been able to get very close to a few, especially if they are really into the flower and I move slowly.

  10. The steel blue wasp is what I know by a common name of a cricket hunter. It’s named that because it hunts crickets, bringing them back to the hive as food for the hatching larva. If you Google “cricket hunter wasp”, it comes right up.

    I love photographing bees – it was great practice for doing the butterflies a few weeks ago at our botanical gardens. I agree with you that the bees are generally pretty docile – a little too docile as our Vizsla spends time chasing them down and trying to eat them. I’d hate for him to get stung, but I wish he’d leave them alone!

    These weren’t the best, but I was happy with them:
    http://livingtheseasons.com/2011/06/26/over-the-flowers-are-the-bees/

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Appreciate it! Yes, the flowers are so colorful. Although, they were starting to wilt last time I was out, so not sure how much longer they have. Enjoy while it lasts, right? 🙂

      • You’re exactly right! It’s the perfect exercise in letting go.

        A flower is beautiful for a short time. Enjoy it while it’s magnificent. When it dies, let go, and take comfort in knowing there will be more, and in having been given the opportunity to experience true, simple beauty. 🙂

    • Haha! Your comment made me smile. No one has ever described me as patient! Tolerant, yes. A bit obsessive? Most definitely. Patient? No way! But hey, I’ll take it! LOL. 😀

  11. Great photos! I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to get up close to these bees and take their pictures. Do you ever photograph hives? Looking forward to the next post!

  12. Congratulation on freshly pressed! Very nice shot especially with sharp focus on the bee and flower with blurred background. Must have been required a lot of patience, waiting and observing to get the right angle. Although I usually take flower, perhaps I should try to shoot some insect someday. Thanks for the inspiration!Cheers…

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