Tag Archive | sleeping

First Coelioxys of 2014!


I am so excited to have met up with (on Saturday) my favourite little bees, Coelioxys! Something about these streamlined little wonders is just so appealing to me. Of course, they were sleeping in their usual manner on the rainy morning, so I had good opportunities to play with the lighting.


Here is what a cluster of Coelioxys looks like, on a dead flower stalk.


Because of the rain, this one had quite a bit of water accumulated.


Like with the Ammophila yesterday, the water adds something to the already pretty texture.



For this shot and the one at the top, I used some hard light from the rear and to the right to make these droplets shine. The green streak is a plant stem in the background.


This bee is starting to wake, and grooming begins even before detaching her mandibles.


In the midst of waking up…


Now the bee is detached, and looking for a place to groom all this water off.


After a couple swipes with the feet, the thorax is drier.


This pretty little bee had a bit of a drier perch for the night.




Sand Lovers


In addition to the bundles of sleeping bees I found at Iona Beach on Saturday, I also encountered some Ammophila wasps. Their name means “Sand Lover” and they are major predators of caterpillars in sandy habitats. They sting their prey precisely to paralyze it, then bury them in dungeons under the sand for their larvae to eat. The wasps I was shooting were resting on various vegetation, especially stiffer dead flowerheads. The rain made for some beautiful texture and reflections.


Most sleeping Hymenoptera I find seem to have a preference for dead vegetation. Perhaps this is less attractive to other animals and makes for a disturbance-free night? In addition, the dead twigs and flowers are often stiffer and don’t blow around as much.


In sleeping mode, these wasps grasp tightly with their mandibles. If you disturb them, they quickly re-grasp the substrate rather than waking and moving.



Here is one on a living plant. I like the way the droplets highlight the smooth abdomen.


It can be a wet business sleeping in the rain. I suppose while they are sleeping they must shut down their grooming responses.



Here is another Sphecid, not Ammophila, but perhaps Isodontia?

Tomorrow I will thrill you with some more sleeping hymenopterans…I have saved the best of them for last!


Sleeping (Colletes) bees!


Yesterday was cold and wet at Iona Beach, where I set out for an insect photography walk. The conditions were a bit uncomfortable for me, but it was not raining so much that I could not use my camera. To make up for the wet misery, I found such a lot of cool things that it will take a series of blog posts to cover them all!

This subject came up as I was just leaving the beach, aiming to warm myself up in a hot shower when I glanced down and saw a little cluster of sleeping bees. Looking around on adjacent flowers, I found that there were 5 such clusters! This was too good to pass up, so I buckled down and started shooting despite the cold.

Here are a couple of the other clusters:



I am no expert on solitary bees, so I would love to know what these are. I initially thought they were Halictus, but I am beginning to wonder about that…Whatever they are, they are all males, as they have very hairy faces (most female solitary bees are all business in the front).

Update! These are apparently Colletes males. Thanks to John Ascher for the ID!

Having  such still subjects allows some experimentation with lighting and background…


Here they are against the overcast sky. This was a single diffused flash to the upper left of the cluster and a white bounce card held immediately to the right.


Here I have the diffused light to the upper right, and the bounce card behind (with a flash pointed at it) to blow out the background. In hindsight, maybe I should carry two cards!

Here I am using a single diffused light to the upper left, a bounce card to the right, and the background lit with the second flash using the Monster Macro Rig.


Here the setup is similar to the above, except the background is mostly dark and the second light throws hard light to the right and rear.


Sleeping bees are awesome…Now I have yet another search image burned into my brain for when I go out in the mornings and evenings!


As I urge you always, go out and find some sleeping Hymenoptera! They are great subjects for photography!

I mentioned that I had a good photography day at Iona Beach…Here is a hint at what comes next:





For macrophotography, no bees are better subjects than sleeping bees. When these normally busy Hymenoptera decide to turn in for the evening, it takes a lot to disturb them. Because of their single-mindedness, they make excellent subjects, and they can be found at a convenient time, such as the early morning (before work) and in the evening (after work). The leaf they are grasping can often be detached from the plant and then the whole setup can be posed with one hand while shooting with the other. If you are dextrous enough, you can even hold a white bounce card on the opposite side to your key light in order to provide some nice creamy fill.

I got the chance yesterday to try out some of these tricks with sleeping Nomada. The members of this genus are cleptoparasites of other bees, such as Andrena, meaning they seek out the other bees’ nests and oviposit within them. Then the Nomada larva consumes the provisions that the host laid in for her young. Nomada seems to be a tricky group to identify, and hence I cannot provide specific identifications, but I suspect all of these are in the Nomada ruficornis species group.

I hope you enjoy the photos!


Aiming the Monster Macro Rig toward some nearby vegetation produces a nice soft green background.


Aiming up produces a nice blue sky backdrop.


This is the result of positioning the same subject in front of a dandelion.


A bit of a different angle. You can see pollen adhering to the thorax, probably picked up while entering a host’s nest.


Here is another Nomada I found in the afternoon.You can see it is hanging on with just the mandibles.


This one was not fully committed to sleeping, so woke up and detached…


Providing the opportunity for another good angle!


A hairier and more robust individual.


Sleeping on a Snowberry leaf.


If you ever get the chance, go out and find some sleeping bees! You won’t regret it!