Busy as

By Phil Plait | September 8, 2009 7:30 am

A few weeks ago my brother-in-law took this picture:

Click to embeegen (ha!). Actually, I helped take this shot; I held the flash while he took the pictures. We were bent way over into the lavender, and the buzz of dozens of bees was quite loud and more than a little menacing.

He’s a good photographer, and one of these days we’ll set up all my meteorites to get a nice gallery of them.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pretty pictures

Comments (27)

Links to this Post

  1. Moody Moon | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | September 24, 2009
  1. Oh, purdy! I was hiking the flume trail in the White Mountains this weekend, and there was a nice field full of wildfowers there, and they had a sign that said, “Bees present. Bee careful.” Did you have a hand in that? 😛

    Some great photos on your brother in law’s flicker page though.

  2. NewEnglandBob


    The sign should have said:

    “Humans present. Very dangerous.”

  3. Michelle

    It’s absolutely gorgeous. That guy’s got lots of talent. The colors are perfectly balanced.

    I’m keeping that for painting references…

  4. Annalee Flower Horne

    That’s a great picture!

    And timely, with Hive Overmind Magazine running that article about bees.

    Personally, I’m covetous of the honey they’re making. Lavender honey? I bet it tastes awesome.

    (but then, I’ve yet to taste a honey I didn’t like–only ones that are a bit boring like orange blossom and clover. I bet lavender is unboring).

  5. Brett from Canada

    Nice! Shame it’s labeled “creepy”, though… Bees are wonderful insects (my favorite after spiders)! And certainly not dangerous unless you do something very silly. They’re also a) absolutely vital to modern agriculture and, I think, are taken for granted by most, and b) mysteriously vanishing thanks to colony collapse disorder (although, fortunately, it sounds like there’s been some progress in that area).

  6. That is a pretty picture! I’ve always wanted to be able to do good photography. I just hope digital cameras one day make up for by in-experience. :)

  7. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Bees were competing with my wives humming bird feeders a couple of years ago so she started placing sugar water on a paper plate absorbed by paper towels to keep their wings from getting wet. They swarmed it when ever she brought it out. I was able to feed them wearing no shirt. They were not aggressive at all. If you accidentally pinch one under your arm you might get stung in self -defense but they are peaceful if not killer bees. My wife got stung once when a bee got trapped in her shirt sleeve. I felt it was safer to go topless.

  8. Greg

    There’s just as much beauty, weirdness and awe from a close-up picture of an insect as there as from the glorious pictures of outer space. And even more impressive and powerful is knowing that these all came from the same, undirected, undesigned, most basic source of all – the universe itself.


    Charles J. Slavis, Jr.:

    Bees were competing with my wives humming bird feeders…

    Are you a Mormon who practices plural marriage? :-)

  10. Chris P

    Yes, please have him photograph your meteorite collection! Always love seeing new pieces.

  11. Kevin

    That’s funny about lining up your meteorites. I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing for a few weeks, but haven’t got around to it.

  12. Since I got into photography, I’ve photographed a lot of bees. I don’t have the equipment to get a shot that nice, but I’ve got some closeups. (Even got one once of two bees… um, being busy.) I used to be afraid of them, but since I’ve been taking photos of them I’ve learned that bees in general are quite gentle. So long as you don’t bother them too much, they’ll leave you alone. Even if you bother them too much, they’ll often just buzz by you a few times to warn you or will attempt to fly away. They only really sting if they think their life or their hive is in danger. (They don’t, however, like being disturbed while “being busy.” I moved a leaf to get a better shot and got quite the “BUZZ” response!)

    Now wasps… They’re nasty insects!

  13. Back in the days of 35mm film (I haven’t done much photography in this digital age, but one of these days I’m going to get myself a nice camera and get back into it), my favorite lens was the Macro lens.

    That bee picture is really nice.

  14. Petrolonfire

    We were bent way over into the lavender

    For one second there I thought you’d written “We were bent way over in the lavatory” & had a real WTF!!! moment! 😉

    @ 9 IVAN3MAN: Or a Muslim? I gather they’re allowed up to four wives. Actually quite a few cultures practice polygamy.. 😉

  15. Plutonium being from Pluto

    The BA :

    the buzz of dozens of bees was quite loud and more than a little menacing.

    Bring back any flashbacks from Futurama -the Sting? 😉

    Now that was a good SF cartooon & that ep one of their very best ever. Awesome surreal dream / musical sequence & Fry’s death was very moving. IMHON.

    Okay, they were meant to be killer space *wasps* but since when do wasps – killer space wasps or otherwise – produce honey? 😉

    Good photo anyhow – hope you weren’t stung. :-)

  16. We had a good time photographing these bees, the hard part was that they would not hold still for much more than a second so I was constantly moving the camera trying to get focused on one of these guys while Phil tried to place the flash where I was aiming. This picture was taken with a Nikon 105mm f2.8 Micro Lens, my favorite lens out of 6 that I own. As for creepy, I meant how close in the photo is was creepy, not the bee itself. Bees are incredibly beautiful. Although the spider is also beautiful, it is actually creepy looking.

    No one was stung and no bees were harmed in the making of this picture. Unless they didn’t like the flash and then they may have been mostly annoyed at us.


  17. That’s a beautiful photo! I would love to do some macro photography. Good stuff!

  18. Mike Wagner

    Even when you’re right at the nest bees will give you some warnings to go away first… they head-butt you. It’s a little disconcerting to have bees flying into you repeatedly, but if you don’t get the message they’re willing to take that next step :)

  19. Mike Wagner

    Ants! (let’s see if this image link works) These little guys were the size of the letter i in my default Firefox settings.

  20. MadScientist

    Oh, Beehave BA! 2 people to take the shot? It sounds like your brother in law can use an annular flash as a christmas present. *hint,hint*

  21. harpe éolienne

    such a lovely photo! quite hard to get those cilia in clear focus like that.

  22. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I just don’t tell them about each other.

  23. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    So many women ! So little time!

  24. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    You just think I walk around in a fog……..It’s a bigamist.

  25. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I wanted to pollinate , but she thought I said polident and she pulled my teeth. She left me standing there, sort of a gummy bare.

  26. Paul A.

    I’m using this as my desktop wallpaper right now>


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