15 April 2006

Flight of the carpenter bee

(Alternate title: Man wastes morning trying to photograph flying bees)

When I went out to the backyard this morning, I saw several large bees flying around the apple tree, which is blossoming. I noticed that they had an occasional tendency to hover. I figured that would be a challenging subject to photograph. So I took my camera and spent a while to get a good picture.

It was indeed challenging. The main difficulty was getting a sharp picture. Even when they were hovering, the bees were staying at one spot for only a second or two. That was hardly long enough for me to locate the bee in the viewfinder, bring the auto focus target on the bee and press the shutter release. The other problem was that the shutter speeds I was using were not short enough to freeze their wings. Both the picture above and the one below were taken at 1/640 s. You can imagine how fast they beat their wings.

In the picture below it looks as if the bee had landed on the ground. Actually, it was hovering above the ground. That one was taken at 1/500 s.

I first thought they were bumble bees. Then one of them landed on the underside of the horizontal bar of the fence slightly above the ground and disappeared. When I looked under the bar, I saw an almost circular hole (see below). That's when I realized they were carpenter bees.

They are damaging the fence, but at the same time providing a service by pollinating my apple tree. It's fair enough.

Part 2 with better pictures is here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good hunting!
The blurry wings impart the sense of movement, no need to freeze the motion.
If freezing motion is your goal, using flash helps in these situations. The burst of the bulb is much shorter (faster) than the shutter, freezing the image. It laso allows you to use a lower ISO setting, reducing noise.