Macro workshop, with bees.

Worker bee

Working at the bee hive, pulling a frame for inspection.

Pulling a frame for inspection.

Last week I lead a group of people in a macro workshop, with the bonus that most of the participants were beekeepers! After a morning of learning, setting up equipment and some table-top practice, we set out for the hives just after lunch. It was a sunny afternoon, but cool (about 16ºC) and windy, so the bees, although active, were not aggressive. We wore veils with vests, but otherwise, no extra preparation was done, and we could work without gloves. We exchanged camera equipment occasionally, so everyone could experience different macro set-ups. While I was somewhat cautious around the hives compared to the experienced apiarists, we all managed to get some good photographs by the end of the session. More shots to follow in upcoming posts!

Intense macro-photography at the bee hives!

Intense macro-photography at the bee hives!

Posted in Alberta, Apidae, Camera, Canada, Edmonton, Equipment, Flash, Hymenoptera, Insect, Lenses, macro, photography, Season, Spring, Technique, Workshop Tagged , , , , |

Western Yellowjacket Queen

Vespula pensylvanica

Queen exposed

The western yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica) is a common wasp in Alberta. Unlike Dolichovespula arenaria which constructs suspended aerial nests, V. pensylvanica builds paper nests underground, sometimes using rodent burrows, and in urban areas nests can be found in dark crevices between buildings and walkways, inside compost bins and any other dark protected area.
Like all yellowjacket species in Alberta, the only ones to survive the winter are the fertilized queens. I find them sometimes when doing garden clean-up in spring, nestled down in the depths of the previous season’s leaves or in the mulch around the plants. The queen shown above was under the bark of a fallen spruce tree in Edmonton’s river valley and gave a cautionary buzz with her wings when I exposed her. It was a warm day, so she soon took flight.

ID through Discover Life Vespinae guide and confirmed by Matthias Buck.

Posted in Alberta, Bugs, Canada, Edmonton, Hymenoptera, Insect, macro, photography, Season, Spring, Vespidae Tagged , |

Zephyrs in the Park III

Continuing with the ‘Zephyrs in the Park’ series, here are the long-awaited Lasioglossum zephyrum mating scenes.

This time, there are none of the narrator’s dulcet tones to distract, so those who aren’t partial to music with their ‘entomology’ can safely turn the sound off.

Part 4 should be ready soon, with snippets of some of the other types of bugs that were living near to the Lasioglossum nest site in Goldbar park.

(Recorded 31 July, 2015. Edmonton)

Posted in Alberta, Behaviour, Canada, Edmonton, Halictidae, Hymenoptera, in copula, Insect, macro, photography, Season, Summer Tagged , , , , , |