Using your hand to pose bees

01st April 2012
It's can be surprisingly easy to encourage solitary bees onto your hand, to assist with photography. This can help give you a nice "clean" shot and by adjusting the position of your hand relative to the camera, can help in getting "diagnostic" features into view. It helps that solitary bees don't sting. I might be more caution with honeybees or bumblebees!

Once on your hand, they seem to settle quite nicely. Perhaps it's the warmth. The image on the left is a male Yellow-legged Mining Bee (Andrena flavipes), covered in dandelion pollen. I encouraged him directly onto my hand from the flower. They sometimes seem a bit "drowsy" after feeding; this might help.

With my camera setup (DSLR + macro lens + TwinLite flash) which is quite heavy, I can rest this on my hand too. In this way (with "subject" and camera resting on the same surface), any movement affects both camera and subject and minimises motion blur.

The images above show three more solitary bees; quite happy to stay still and pose. On the left is a female Yellow-legged Mining Bee (Andrena flavipes), with a full pollen load. In the middle, an Andrena nigroaenea female. She's just emerged from the nest burrow and is still caked with mud. On the right, a male Ashy Mining Bee (Andrena cineraria) with the characteristic black and white colouration and large white "moustache".

See more Andrena images in the Image Gallery.


Photo comment By Florian Wolf: I have found the same to be the case with our blue-banded bees (Anguilla spec.). They love being gently stricken on the back while sitting down, very docile bees.

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