Andrena bicolor

21st March 2012
It's 21th March and I'm in the local churchyard again, looking for bees and other insects in the Spring sunshine. The daffodils are in bloom but swaying around in the breeze. I see what looks like a small bee inside the trumpet of one of the flowers, but realise that a decent shot could be difficult.

I've learned from experience to approach slowly and to avoid my shadow falling across the subject. I walk behind the flower so that I'm hidden from the bee's view and check my camera settings. I'm using a DSLR with macro and flash so opt for 1/250th second at F11 and ISO 100. I use a "bracing" technique. Sitting on the ground, I gently grasp the daffodil stem with my left hand and push my hand against my right knee to brace it; camera resting on my right knee too. I slowly turn the stem until I can see into the flower. The bee is still there and I focus by slowly moving in with the camera (the lens is manual focus). I get two shots before the bee flies off.

This lovely little bee is Andrena bicolor and it's the first time I've photographed it. You can see that's it's generally very dark with black hairs on the face and reddish/brown hairs on the thorax. There are dense pale hairs on the pollen basket of this female.

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