Bee Speed

February 27, 2009 007 (4) Do you remember when the Hellebore flowers began to bloom in February and the bees were sort of groggy and slow moving as they made their rounds? April 6, 2009 018 (2)Or when the tree peony beckoned a slow motion buzzer with pollen galore? April 3, 2009 033 (2) Those were lazy days of cool temperatures, perfect for taking a nap out in the open… April 24, 2009 125 (2) …or tucked inside an iris bloom. June 8, 2009 010 (3) My how times have changed. Now it’s rush rush rush, busy busy busy. June 10, 2009 040 (3) Mister Bumble (Mr./Ms. Carpenter, thanks Helen) is really going at it on the Scarlet Runner Bean flower on the knot garden teepee. There is some very suggestive hip gyration here not captured adequately by our puritanically minded old camera, the Canon Powershot A 720, if you get my drift. June 10, 2009 043 (2) Still in the knot garden, on the lavender laced quatrefoil center this hard working pollen jockey seems to have a pointy protuberance on his hind end. This seems like a good time to tell the story of a lady gardener who, after cleaning up in the shower when the day’s chores were done, began to peruse the garden beds. Wearing a flowing skirt. During the flowering time of the Ajuga repens that lines the steps up to the very same knot garden as seen in the about me sidebar photo. The Ajuga’s blue flowers are absolute bee magnets, and are quite low to the ground. Just about the height of the hem of the aforementioned skirt. Rumor has it that honeybees can sting only once. Personal experience can verify that Bumblebees can sting repeatedly, over and over and over, on delicate ivory skinned thighs, when trapped inside flowing fabric. Just so you know. Forewarned is forearmed. June 3, 2009 028 (2) Moving along the long wall that runs behind the main house was this industrious fellow, visiting each of the evening primrose yellow blooms that have spread throughout the forty foot length. The camera toting gardener was following along, trying to get a focused shot as he darted from flower to flower. He must have finally found the flower of his dreams with this one, for the only word that can be used to describe his behaviour towards the pollened center is ravaging. June 8, 2009 023 (3) The rate of speed with which the bees are buzzing around here has picked up so much that photos are becoming more and more difficult to snap. Really about the only way to capture these marvelous creatures is when they are sleeping in the early morning light. Even sleeping through a sprinkling provided by the hose wielder giving the newly opening New England Asters a long drink before the heat of the day parches their thirst. Would you like a towel with your shower, sir?

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36 Responses to Bee Speed

  1. Janet says:

    Those are pretty amazing pictures Frances. The first one with the honey bee in mid flight is a really good one.

    Hi Janet, thanks. It was so easy to photograph the bees then, when the weather was still chilly. They were slow moving. That shot would not be possible now, they are turbo charged for speed! Too many flowers to visit, not enough time! πŸ™‚

  2. gittan says:

    You managed to get a lot of pictures even if they were in a hurry. I chased those bumble bees here yesterday, not that succesfully / gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks. Some of those were older photos, taken in a slower time, early spring late winter. Now they are in a hurry, with no time to pose. πŸ™‚

  3. My sister once ended up with a cicada killer wasp under her skirt. They sting, too.

    The bees are sure enjoying the flowers of Faire Garden!

    Ouch! Your poor sister! Wasp stings really hurt, too. We have many bees but they just aren’t into sitting still right now unless they are sleeping. I felt bad about wetting down the sleeper on the aster.

  4. Les says:

    True Story: a woman comes into the garden center looking for an evergreen shrub that is easy to grow, doen’t get too big, flowers all season and does not attract bees. What I said in my head was not polite, but what I told her was, if you want flowers in your garden, be prepared for bees.

    Hi Les, that is too funny, and so true about the bees. Maybe she was allergic, as my dear neighbor Mae was. It didn’t stop her from gardening with lots and lots of flowers everywhere. She had the kit in her garden cart at all times. As you know, the bees won’t sting you unless trapped or you sit on their nest while weeding. That was a really bad bit, yellow jackets. Although hornets are the worst, they attack. But that is yet another story. πŸ™‚

  5. I remember the tree peony photo.

    Carol’s comment above, I don’t like the sound of a cicada killer wasp.

    Bee lucky

    HA Rob, thanks. Anything with Killer in the name, even roses, should be avoided. πŸ™‚

  6. lynn says:

    Oh no, Frances, hope you’re not allergic to bee stings! My neighbor has a honey bee box (actually 3) so my garden is usually loaded with them. We also have boarer bees that’s damaging the cannot miss their BUZZING! I’ve been stung many times and it hurts! Love the primrose photo!

    Hi Lynn, thanks. No, I am not allergic, but the stings still swell up and itch like crazy. I have found ice applied immediately is the key to stop the itching, or better yet, no skirts in the garden. The borer bees are eating our shed and garage deck, don’t really know how to stop them either.

  7. Darla says:

    I guess my first comment is in cyberspace somewhere. Great photos. I posted photos of a bee spinning pollen around it’s legs yesterday. Lovely creatures to observe and responsible for every third bite of food.

    Hi Darla, sorry about that, it happens to me sometimes too. Your bee photos were fabulous, and what a pretty white hibiscus too. We are happy to have many types of bees and wasps here, they are all welcome. But no skirts in the garden from now on. πŸ™‚

  8. ourfriendben says:

    We thankfully have lots of bees around here, too, Frances. I can sympathise with your skirt experience since I once had a bumblebee climb up my pants leg. Nobody ever saw a pair of pants come off so fast! (Fortunately, I wasn’t stung.) But I do get stung ever few years between the toes while walking in flowering clover in my sandals. The poor honeybees apparently think they’ve become trapped and sting many, many times bfore I can extract them. I now try to pay very close attention when the clover blooms!

    Ouch, OFB, between the toes is a tough spot! I must have written about this story before, it kind of seemed like it, but I remember your telling me about the pant leg, not the toes however! Ah the wonders of aging, everything is new again. πŸ™‚

  9. Gail says:

    Frances, Charming bees and very delightful photographs….the bees have been zipping about here, too and they and are nearly impossible to photograph…but you’ve done a great job! Have a good day! gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. Both the bees and butterflies are on super speedy missions anymore. I was just thinking of those cool weather shots and how slowly the bees flew. Now they zoom zoom. πŸ™‚

  10. mothernaturesgarden says:

    Wow! Frances, you are really good at up close and personal.

    Hi Donna, thanks. It’s what that camera does best. The long shots are never satis factory. πŸ™‚

  11. Wonderful photos Frances. I find it difficult to photograph even a sleeping bee since they tend to get tucked into the blossom so tight. It has been so rainy here this week I’ve not been in the garden much.

    Thanks, Lisa. Our bees are campers I guess, they just lay on top and snooze. No rain for us. I have to use the hose, yuck.

  12. tina says:

    Ouch! Gotta beeee careful and give those insects their space. Here we have the bees but the problem is the wasps. They don’t care if you give them their space-they all come after you for no reason.

    Those bee shots are superb! I keep thinking about that shot of your butterfly weed with all the butterflies on it. I finally have the same! No good shot though. I’ll enjoy yours.

    Yikes, Tina, those wasps sound serious! So far we are only attacked if a nest is disturbed. Glad to hear your butterfly weed is drawing the customers. Now put your chair as close as you can, have the camera ready and wait for them to come around, then be quick with the shutter! πŸ™‚

  13. Hi, Frances, I think you’re being too modest. That first photo with the bee zooming in to the flower is amazing. Just getting the focus right is the hard thing, and you captured it perfectly.

    The bee with the shiny behind making cozy with the scarlet runner bean is Mister Carpenter (or more likely Ms. Carpenter), not Mister Bumble. He or she is a very misunderstood critter. I’m a fan, and wrote about them on my blog here:

    Ah thanks, Helen. Mr. or Ms. Carpenter was making movements on that flower that I thought belonged in the privacy of their boudoir. I will check out your story too. Thanks for the link. As for the first photo, the bee was moving in slow motion, and I only use auto, the camera does the focusing. πŸ™‚

  14. Rose says:

    Fantastic photos, Frances! The last one does look like he just stepped out of the shower. I have been stung by a bee only once, and that was in my classroom, believe it or not; I know it hurts! I’ll remember to avoid long flowing skirts while walking in the garden:) I’ve noticed bee activity really picking up here lately, too. They were swarming over my nepeta yesterday–they seem to like purple.

    Thanks, Rose. I felt bad for getting him wet, not seeing him until after the watering was done. Stung in the classroom, that must have been a hoot for the students! Our nepeta is blooming too, funny how fast the flowering catches up from north to south.

  15. RainGardener says:

    I noticed that the other day that the bee was going to fast for a picture. But your photos turned out fantastic!
    Normally I stay away from bees – they scare the bejeebers out of me – because throughout my life I’ve just been stung too many times by groups of bees, getting multiple stings and have even been chased by them. My husband found this corny and unbelievable until we had been together a while and he’s seen it. But back to what I was saying – the other day I decided I’d get up the nerve to take a picture of one on a flower – after all Bob keeps telling me this bee won’t hurt me (even though I know different LOL). Guess I didn’t have to find out because he was on the move and I couldn’t get a picture.
    I also found the butterflies clipping right along this year. They always land and pose for pictures but I just couldn’t get one this year until 2 days ago and one landed and was puddling? He stayed in the wet soil by the birdbath for an hour so I got a picture.

    Hi RainGardener, thanks. I wonder why the bees chase you, how unusual! You must be too sweet. Having the butterfly stay still that long was fantastic. In the butterfly house in Chicago they had trays of fruit, bananas and oranges that they would stay on for long periods.

  16. The bees are in a frenzy right now on St. John’s Wort. They are in high speed as they move over the puffy blossom, then they just fall over and sleep for awhile! It’s one of our more entertaining events in the garden.


    Hi Cameron, how funny. They just seem too busy here lately, no time to stop and smell the roses! πŸ™‚

  17. Joanne says:

    Gosh supper photographs. Hmm a warning for not gardening in flowing skirts!

    Thanks Joanne. And be warned about the flowing skirts! πŸ™‚

  18. RainGardener says:

    Hi Frances, I want to thank you for commenting on my wildflower. You were correct that it is Fairybells Disporum and after looking I found the one that looked exactly like mine – it is Disporum smithii. Thanks again – it now has a tag ready to go up next to it!

    Glad to hear it, RainGardener. We all like to know what we’ve got growing. πŸ™‚

  19. Meredith says:

    I love bees and as part of my wildlife goals I am adding plants just for the bees! The only bee on my bad list is a tiny little sweat bee that stung me while I was in a swimming pool. The nerve! I had never heard of them until that one came and found me.

    Hi Meredith, good idea. I have been stung by a sweat bee too, when growing up in Oklahoma. Little but with a mighty sting. πŸ™‚

  20. Victoria says:

    Those are some great bee pics. Love the narrative, too. So sexy!

    Thanks, Victoria. It was sort of embarrassing while taking the photographs, trying to cover my eyes but still line up the shot. πŸ™‚

  21. Racquel says:

    They have so many wonderful blooms to choose from now they are probably overwhelmed! πŸ˜‰

    Hi Racquel, that is a very interesting thought. Right now they are into the lavender the most. Later will be sedums and Joe Pye.

  22. Katarina says:

    Those insects are fascinating! They never seem to tire and they do so much good in our gardens! -Excellent captures!

    Thanks Katarina. It is tiring to the human following them around with the camera trying to get a non blurry shot. They are in such a hurry right now. πŸ™‚

  23. Frances, LOL, I move slower in February than June myself! Love all the bee macros. I almost want to pet them. Noogie!

    How funny, Monica. It is the opposite for me. Moving fast in February to keep warm, moving slow now because it is so dang hot and humid. The bees definitely qualify for noogies too. πŸ™‚

  24. WOW how did you take that first flight. Wonderful photos!


    Hi Helen, thanks. It was just good luck. At the end of a rainstorm, the sun came out and I grabbed the camera to take advantage of the light. It was surprising to see the bees, and they were quite slow moving. I was on the downhill slope from the hellebore looking up into it.

  25. Jen says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen bees so close up. They must have been hard to capture! Fascinating photos, Frances!

    Hi Jen, thanks. The late winter ones were so slow moving, it was easy to photograph them. Here lately, they are speed demons and difficult to shoot unless they are asleep. πŸ™‚

  26. Brenda Kula says:

    Sort of like this bank going up across the street from me. Once they start, they work round the clock almost and on weekends to get done within the time frame to make sure they don’t lose any money (contractors). I guess the bees were lulled by the lazy wonderful spring days and didn’t get their business done! That, or it’s just that time of year.

    Hi Brenda, well maybe that will mean the noise will be over faster too. As for the bees, they are in such a hurry now, it is nearly impossible to catch them still unless they are sleeping.

  27. Rusty says:

    I noticed more bees around my garden too, and moving to fast for my camera. Amazing pictures.

    Thanks, Rusty. Bees are good, but we photographers would like them to stop and pose for a moment or two, right? πŸ™‚

  28. Kanak says:

    Fabulous photos, Frances. Tucked inside an iris bloom or the on the scarlet runner bean flower…I loved them all.

    Thanks, Kanak, I am glad you enjoyed them. πŸ™‚

  29. Steve says:

    Frances, I can’t believe an experienced garden lover like yourself thought it was fine to wear a dress while gliding through the Ajuga. Frankly, it is one of the reasons I NEVER wear a dress out in the garden!

    Your pictures are as scrumptious as always. I love your stuff.

    Thanks, steve, HA! What a thought. Wonder what your clients would say? Do you prefer prints or basic black? πŸ™‚

  30. TC says:

    Sorry to hear about the repeated stings. I’m allergic to bee stings so have to be very careful while out and about during the warm months. I carry and Epi-pen with me most of the time. But I’ve found that if you leave them alone, they don’t bother you, unless you happen to disturb a yellow jacket nest. I don’t know why that species is so aggressive.

    Hi TC, you are a brave man to work among them while allergic. My neighbor Mae was highly allergic and also carried her kit when working outside. She did not stop gardening until forced to by failing health. We steer clear of yellow jackets and hornets. They are so aggressive around their nests, so we really try and pay attention to where those nests might be. Old fruit trees are especially dangerous.

  31. Tabbie says:

    Bees are great! I love to photograph them, but sometimes they just don’t want to sit still long enough. Well done on this series of shots!

    Hi Tabbie, thanks. There were many many shots taken to get these few. It was so much easier in the cool of late winter/ early spring. They are jazzed and flying at turbo speed now. πŸ™‚

  32. Kathleen says:

    Incredible captures Frances. But oh my. Not fun on the bumble up the skirt. I’m stinging just thinking about it. I haven’t even tried to do any bee photography this year. Maybe it’s about time??

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. The bee stings on my thigh itched like the dickens, and swelled up rather hugely too. No more skirts. I do think it’s time for you to take some of your fabulous bee photos, too. πŸ™‚

  33. marmee says:

    you sure did manage to capture a lot of those busy bees. how wonderful your peony tree blooms are. everything is looking so wonderful in your garden.

    Hi Marmee, thanks. I miss the tree peony blooms, looking at those older photos. They were still blooming in Chicago though, so nice to see them again. πŸ™‚

  34. Superb photos, I don’t know how you do it, Frances;-)

    Thanks, Jan. Hundreds of photos and lots of luck. πŸ™‚

  35. Pam/Digging says:

    Great bee pics, Frances. I’m inspired to try to find a sleeping bee, as I’ve never seen one except on your blog. It could have something to do with the fact that I’m a night owl, not a morning person, I suppose…

    Thanks Pam. You have to be an early bird to catch the sleeping bees. As soon as the sun is up, they awaken. Maybe an overcast or rainy day might be better for a night owl like you. I am up so early, I have to wait for daylight to go outside. πŸ™‚

  36. Oh Frances, how horrible that must have been! Ouch, ouch, ouch! I’m allergic to bee stings and I’m assuming bumblebee stings, too. The thought of what you describe makes me shudder!

    So when do you and Gail want to come up this way and spend a few days at Our Little Acre? :-)))

    Hi Kylee, so sorry about your allergy! It hurts to be stung, but is not life threatening, thank goodness. As for the trip, Gail is my travel agent. πŸ™‚

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