During the last workshop, we had a photo-session with bees at the hive. While it is not generally recommended that instructors take images for their own purposes during a workshop, the participants were all comfortable around their subjects and knew what they were looking for in photos, so between offering advice and checking their images, I managed to get a few shots of my own.
While planning the workshop, I reviewed the work of bee photographers Stephen Dalton*, Eric Tourneret and Alex Wild. A couple of weeks before the workshop I contacted Alex and asked for advice, and he generously provided detailed notes on how to best work with the hive. I knew that with a subject like domesticated bees that basic shots of bees massed on the comb are very common, and what I wanted to find were details of behaviour, and, if possible, records of parasites and diseases. While the relatively short time I had to take photographs and the weather (windy and cool) not being ideal, I did manage a few interesting photos.
My favourite is this shot of an emerging worker bee. She was noticed chewing her way out of a cell, so I quickly swapped lenses from the 100mm macro to the MP-E65mm and took a few shots. In a non-training situation, I would have photographed the complete emergence, but duty called.
Then I found these two, nicely separate from the mass of bees, who were involved in trophallaxis. I would have preferred a comb-level shot, which wasn’t possible from my position, but this bird’s-eye view clearly shows the exchange.
Before a frame was going to be returned to the hive, this bee-chain was noticed, spanning the gap between the other two frames. I snapped off a few frames..
And as a counter-point to the first image, this bee is head-down in a cell. She could be feeding a little bee-larva, or cleaning the cell in preparation for a new egg or for pollen or honey storage.
Later, a bee-sting sequence. Ouch!