This year has been a very busy one for the bees. Despite what the calendars say is the official start of spring in reality here in the Avon Valley it arrived four weeks early this year with everything kicking off. I said in a previous post that most of the orchids were out early, well where there are flowers there are bees and the early start has kept them very busy. Not only have they been very busy feeding and pollinating flowers they have been busy swarming. I’ve never seen so many swarms. In one week I saw four flying around as I took the dog out on her morning walks. One particularly memorable formed in Avon Terrace, which is Yorks main drag, and made its way up the street causing chaos as people tried to avoid it before it settled on a TV aerial on the back of a caravan.
The swarm in the picture above was on a blind corner on the river walk trail and I nearly walked into it. As it was I got stung several times on the face. Despite the drama of the swarms I’ve had a lot of fun this spring just photographing the bees in my garden and here are some of the shots that I’ve taken.
As far as photographic technique goes it is fairly simple. I shot these using a Canon EOS550d or an EOS5d with a Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens. I mounted my flash on Custom Brackets Mini-RC with a Stofen Omni-Bounce as diffuser, and I connected the flash to the camera via a TTL cable and shot in aperture priority setting -1 stop exposure compensation so that the flash light is the main source as light (or key) and the ambient is the fill. The High Speed Sync function is also selected. I then select an aperture to give me sufficient depth of field – around f8 or f11. The ISO is set to give me a shutter speed of above 1/100th sec. I don’t worry about the speed of the bees when they move as the flash freezes the motion with its very short duration. Easy peasy. At this point I should point out that when doing this you should keep your mouth shut as you don’t want to be stung on the tongue and if the bees start getting upset you should back off a bit to allow them to settle. Also if you are allergic to bee stings might I suggest butterflies it may be safer.