I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Me and my bumble bees, up close and personal.

This is one of my garden bumble bees having dinner on a pink zinnia. (I think he was looking at me.)
 He is a California Bumblebee... Bombus californicus. He is a "he" because he doesn't have a pollen basket on his back legs.Only the females have that big yellow sac on their legs.

 The Nikon 105mm macro lens is what allows me to get this close without endangering my life. (Yes, bumble bees do have stingers, and yes they do hurt.  Unlike honeybees, bumble bees' stingers do not detach from their bodies so they don't die after they sting you.) I'm still learning how to use this new macro lens, but sometimes I do everything right and this photo is the result.
I can't tell you how many shots I took before I got this one... multitudes, believe me. I normally use a tripod but with bees it's best to have some mobility, so I use a monopod or just hand hold the camera.
The image size changes significantly as you focus in the macro range, which makes it very hard to get clear framing. Your DOF (depth of field), the part of the picture that is in focus, is very small.  It's enough to drive me crazy trying to get precise focus on my subject. But this one worked.

I love these flowers. Zinnias come in such beautiful colors and are a lot easier to shoot than bees. They stay in one place.
You can see some of the pollen on this one above and something like glitter on all the edges of the flower below.
I love the world of Macro photography. All these small parts of the flower can be seen and studied. The insects become monsters. "Mothra" becomes real. It's a hidden world waiting for discovery.

No wonder the bees look like this. The pollen is everywhere. It's like a snowy day.
Here are two of them (Yes, one is behind the other.) trying to collect pollen out of a hollyhock flower. They're covered with pollen.. It's like snow.
These are the edges of the hollyhock petals. I love this color... It's the palest pink, almost white.

After the leaves die back, what remains is the seed pod. I have many colors of hollyhocks in the garden but this pale one has the darkest seed pod. Seems odd, doesn't it. 
You can see the seeds very clearly. I think they're beautiful. I'm collecting the seeds as they dry. If anyone would like some seeds just ask when you comment. I would be glad to send you some. I'm starting to lay them out on the table to continue drying. This pale off white one is the most lovely, even when it starts to dry. 
These little "bumbles" are wonderful to watch and photograph.  When night comes they all find a place to sleep. Tonight they will all try to sleep inside a flower. It's funny to watch them vie for position. One flower  tonight had five bumblebees trying to find a place to sleep.
This little bumblebee has settled in for the night. They sleep inside the flowers and between the seed pods. He's all snuggled in. Good night little one. See you in the morning.


  1. smiles...we were at a nursery yesterday and i was watching the bees crawl in and out the flowers...i like the world of macro too...some of the structures are just amazing at that level...

  2. I learned something about bumble bees today. Your photo's are just beautiful and so are your flowers. I believe I would like some of the seeds you mentioned. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  3. You're a girl after my own heart with these fabulous photos, Connie! I love looking up close as you know and this is like a world in another land...I would love seeds but Holly hocks don't do well here because of all the rain.
    Mind you the last few days we are experiencing a heat wave, just in time for Canada Day! Keep on snappin'!

  4. it's amazing...like looking at another planet. Incredible the world that happens all around us completely unseen. Fascinating.

  5. Gorgeous Connie! My "newest" camera is now pretty messed up from being dropped while it was open onto it's lens by a fairly well juiced patron at the party I went to June 1st in Oregon. So I will be looking for something better, but all I really want is fairly small with a good telescope lens. Anyway, I could use some white seeds. I can trade some burgundy seeds, that's about the only color I have this year. Tina

  6. Oh my, you have that camera singing! Beautiful, beautiful images.


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