Last summer was not very productive in regards to the diversity of bugs photographed, partly because I spent a lot of my free time visiting Edmonton’s Goldbar Park. Thanks to a tip from Gary Anweiler, I found an area with an eroded earth bank that was full of insect activity. The south-facing earthen bank is near the mouth of Goldbar Stream where it enters the North Saskatchewan River, and consists of sandy soft soil. Taking advantage of this site were several species of mining bees, the most numerous being a small sweat bee (Hymenoptera, Halictidae), most likely Lasioglossum zephyrum.
These are small ‘primitively’ eusocial bees, only about 6mm long. Because of their size and speed, as well as their reluctance to stay in the vicinity when a great hulking photographer is overshadowing their flight paths, these bees proved to be quite difficult to photograph. They were most active on sunny days, seemingly constantly in erratic flight all over the bank face. The only solution for photography was to make sure I was not casting a shadow and to try to position myself so that I was photographing parallel to the bank face. This had to be done with care because the sandy soil is very delicate and much of the bank was riddled with small nest holes. After some close observation, while crouching without moving, I did notice that some of the nest holes (only about 2mm diameter) had little bee faces peering out, and the flying bees would sometimes flit in front to investigate. Because macro photography was so difficult under these circumstances I decided to try macro video instead, setting up the camera on a light-weight tripod and focusing on nest holes and letting the camera run for five to twenty-minute periods without me looming nearby. Over six visits I recorded a few hours of video which now needs to be carefully watched and edited down to the most interesting sequences. More on the bees, video, equipment and techniques will follow in future posts.