Photographing Blue Banded Bees
Photographing Blue banded bees is best when they are stationary. This is most likely to be when they stop for nectar , or when the males roost at night. They can be encouraged to drink at nectar feeders but success will depend on the amount of naturally occurring nectar plants, the number of blue banded bees around and other influences like temperature etc.
I've tried blue sponges soaked with a honey/water mix, but with other flowers in abundance, only one honey bee even stopped briefly, but did not drink.
I’ve found that a tripod is essential, and the best results to date have come from focusing on a particular flower and waiting. The wind then plays havoc with focus as the plant sways around.
The morning and afternoon light are often too harsh or cast shadows, and the temperature may be too cool for the bees to be up. I’ve found them most active between 1pm and 4pm, it's possible that the sun doesn't reach their nest site/s until quite late.
Pruning the bush in question to reduce the bees options can increase the chances of one landing where you want, but be careful not to prune away the flowers you’ll want to bloom in the days to come. As you sit waiting, you should wear a hat and sunscreen, and drink plenty of fluids. The hot days still days are the ones that the bees seem to like most of all.
I have noticed that they tend to all come at once. Possibly because they live in close proximity to each other. Either way, 10 or 15 minutes can go by without seeing a blue banded bee, and then all at once there will be 3 or 4 making their way around the basil flowers. Often, due to the shape of these flowers, the bbb will do a complete circle around the ring of small flowers. Other times they will dart crazily from one flower to the next. For every good photograph of a blue banded bee, I’ve taken hundreds of duds.
Perennial basil plant - has a ring of flowers that the bbbs tend to work in a circle.
Most shots on this site were taken with a 10.3mp Kodak M1063 digital camera on a tripod, or a Nikon Coolpix L110 12mp camera. The later at least having a macro feature and other helpful settings.
The most important thing you require, is patience.
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