If you’re squeamish about being near bees, or happen to be one of the unlucky few that are allergic to the sting of bees, then I don’t recommend that you try photographing them the way I do.
I could have got out my DSLR and long lens and stood a respectable 10 feet away and there’s a chance I would have got similar results.
But where’s the fun in that.
Instead, I got out my point and shoot that has respectable macro capabilities and took pictures of bees from 2 to 6 inches away.
Some say it’s stupid, which is a possibility, but I like to think it’s a learned skill.
When I was 12 I had my first run in with bees. I was rummaging around a big weed choked lot across the street from Midway Airport. We used to call these lots prairies. When you grow up in the city, this is the closest you get to something big, open and wild. Even though they’re really not all that big, they are to a 12 year old.
I was wandering around the prairie when I came across some big bumblebees that were going in and out of a hole in the ground. I didn’t know bees lived in underground hives, why would I, so I stood watching, fascinated.
Then, like any red blooded American boy, I went and got a stick and started poking around the hole. The bees still came and went, oblivious to me.
So, I jammed the stick a good foot into the hole and moved it around. When I pulled it out it was followed by a steady swarm of big bumblebees, only this time I could hear them buzzing in anger. I did what any red blooded American boy would do at that point and ran like hell.
I got about 50 feet away, what I thought would be a safe distance, stopped and turned around. A big bumblebee made a beeline straight at me, where I learned where the term beeline comes from, and hit me hard in the chest, stinging me.
I don’t remember pain as much as feeling like someone stuck a lit cigarette in my chest, more of a burn. Within a minute the spot where I was stung began to swell. Within two minutes it looked like someone had slipped a golf ball under my skin. I had been in the Boy Scouts for a year at that point and had already learned some first aid. I went home, mixed up some oddball paste concoction and smeared it all over and around the golf ball in my chest. Have no clue if that helped, but I don’t remember the golf ball being there that long.
I did learn a lesson then and over the years to come.
Bees are like men. There are tasks to accomplish and work to be done and as long as you leave them alone, don’t get in there way or stop them, they’ll ignore you and go about their business.
On the sunflowers this day there were also a few wasps. You’ll notice there are no photos of them. I learned a lesson about wasps too over the years.
Wasps are like women. There are tasks to accomplish and work to be done, but it doesn’t matter if you stay out of their way or try to stop them. At some point they’ll turn on you like a rabid dog, for no reason. Next thing you know you’re running trying to get away from them and they continue to pursue you relentlessly. You find yourself begging them to leave you alone and cowering in a corner mumbling, don’t hurt me.
So, where was I…
Well, anyway, I get a kick out of seeing how close I can get to bees and how close I let them get to me. I’ve left them alone as they’ve landed on my Hawaiian shirts to check me out. They soon figure out they’ve been fooled and simply leave.
I knew these bees were here for the pollen. I could see it collecting on their legs and all over their bodies. What I didn’t notice till I looked at the pictures was how much pollen was all over the sunflowers. There are a few shots of pollen on some surrounding leaves, pollen that had fallen off. Never did see that with the naked eye.
One thing I would like to do some day is have a few honey bee hives. Not only would this be good for the bees and good for the plants in the area, I would get to reap the harvest of honey. The cost of honey has risen dramatically the last few years as the honey bee population has dwindled. I hunt the stores looking for bargains to feed my need for honey. The wife looks on with disdain as I open a container of honey and dip a spoon into it, then suck off all that golden goodness.
Much better than candy. Much better for you.
The other day I thought I struck a honey gold mine. A never before seen brand of honey, two 5 pound containers of it, sitting on a shelf and at a decent price.
Of course, I had to buy it all.