Coming out, going in: The Return To The Hive

Lenny La Rue, IPA

Sacramento, United States

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Oh well, sometimes you goof and this shoot was a goof. I had it planned out so well too but forgot one small detail. The Nikon D80 was on a tripod with the 55-200 telephoto lens aimed dead centre into the hole on the tree. I used the remote to trigger it while I used the Panasonic to move all the way over the hive and shoot video. What was SUPPOSED to happen was I’d get a photographic record of my shooting the video from less than 2 inches from the hive using a macro setting. I’d get some still from that distance too if I was feeling brave. What HAPPENED was I forgot the D80’s focus was too tight on the opening of the hive and it completely missed or didn’t show the other camera or my hand. Arrgh!

But taking so many shots in a row DID shed so light on the entire hive. First and most important was that I couldn’t see bees disappearing into the cracks in the bark of the tree without shots less than one second apart and very close. While I though there was one way into the hive, there are actually at least two additional ways – one of them under my hand in the previous shot! This time, my hand wasn’t covering the way out for the bees not using the main entrance and they came out to find something new in their way. I had a sweat shirt with significantly tighter opening but they wound up all over it rather quickly. I was able to gently remove them but it took a while to figure out the problem – like, only after I was back home. :-|

Second interesting thing was the bee dance was obvious on the bark outside the hole. I was able to watch the twists and turns while a circle of bees learned the positions of the nectar and pollen. And by watching, I was able to distinguish two different locations, wherever they actually were. (Remember, I’m neither a bee nor good at reading bee dances.) I think you can even see the different pollen sources in the colours the bees are carrying. This also explained the other half of the constant bumping into me: the bees that followed the instructions were the ones who took off from the circle but the instructions didn’t account for a dumb human and a camera in the immediate path. It would appear that bees aren’t using a whole lot of sight when taking off; they’re probably trying to remember all those damn twists and turns with brains the size of pin heads.

Third, there are no bees that look an different from each other so it appears that all are just plain, common but rare honeybees. However, using the quick shooting of the Panasonic TZ-4, I was now able to recognize who was coming and going and who was just watching me. Again, I only figured this out at home but it helped explain why I was attacked twice. Still no stings but it wasn’t fun being chased around a bit by a single hive protector two times.

Now I’m faced with a dilemma. I can’t brace myself against the tree now because I know there will be bees coming out where my hands are. I also can’t offer amended flight plans avoiding my camera hand for bees heading for the pollen using the right flight plans. I can correct the D80 composition issue but my last time of ignorant luck has come and gone. I think I know too much now to be calm not knowing if there are two more exits or TEN more exits. Odds are, I’m done with this one. Let me amend that: I’M DONE WITH THIS ONE.

Ladybugs, geese, squirrels, and now bees have been The Gonzo Photographer’s target face-to-face subjects. I think I’ll aim for ants or unusual mud formations that resemble faces until I can pull my heart out of my throat. Then I might graduate to pill bugs. Yeah. That seems safe enough.

PS Without the flash, you couldn’t see much definition of the bees or the hive. I didn’t want to use it but wasn’t afraid to with the telemacro possibility preventing any fears of spooking even more ‘watcher’ bees.

Artwork Comments

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