Palo Verde And Honeybee
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Spring is in full swing in these parts and the Palo Verde trees are blooming. A Palo Verde in bloom is a sight to behold. A tree will be covered with many thousands of intensely yellow flowers, so much so, that at a distance the tree seems to become a solid mass of glowing yellow.
Honeybees simply adore Palo Verdes when they are in bloom. They cover these trees in enormous numbers, drinking the flowers’ nectar and collecting pollen. Sometimes, there are so many bees on one of these trees that one can hear the intense humming sound they generate from dozens of feet away.
I took this photograph the other day depicting a honeybee hard at work on a Palo Verde blossom. In order to get a picture like this I have to get very close to the bee. Typically, the front of my lens is about a foot away from the insect when I take its picture and of course, I’m firing my flash with each exposure. People have asked me whether I’m concerned about getting stung when I do that. The answer is: not in the least.
All of the wild honeybees in southern Arizona are “africanized”: that is to say, they are descended from a strain of African honeybees. They are popularly known as “killer bees.” Africanized honeybees will fiercely defend their hives and there have been a few fatalities over the years when humans blundered into or disturbed africanized hives. However, these same bees are completely nonaggressive when away from their hives and out foraging. While foraging, the bees are focused on only one thing, and that is collecting food. They will not sting unless molested. On numerous occasions I’ve photographed one while others foraged and flew just a couple inches from me and I’ve never been stung. I’ve even had bees land on me on a couple of occasions without any adverse consequence. They invariably move on the instant that they discover I’m not a flower.
Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite and stabilized by monopod, M setting, ISO 160, f13 @ 1/160.