Thursday, May 26, 2005

Photo Envy

MaryEllen's Beautiful Honeybee photoOK, the first thing you need to know is, well, this is NOT MY honeybee picture. This is the one that has eluded me every day, as I sit near the hives, watching the girls start flying for the day. It is, in fact, MaryEllen's honeybee portrait, and doesn't it just figure? Since she last appeared in this blog, she has been getting queens (inadvertently) to cohabitate and capturing elusive runaway regal bees. Did I mention she can make pastry? Also, she is going to let me help her harvest honey this summer, and *that* is something good to do a couple of times with someone who really knows how (and in case we are not jealous enough, MaryEllen also has her own honey extractor). But we all should relax: she only uses her powers for good. Um, and I forgot to ask permission to use this picture, so perhaps this might be a good time to ask for forgiveness instead...
This picture was taken as the bee in question was drying off from the recent rain, and warming up in the sun. To the left is a spot of honey that MaryEllen provided as a snack. This week has been really cold for late May, and I, too, spent some time on the roof, trying to fish bees out of puddles. They can drown pretty easily, and it seemed like a chance to make up for some of the squashed girls along the way. In each case, the struggling bee would cling to the proffered finger, and I would sorta hold her out in the breeze to dry off (bees don't like people-breath, so blowing on her was right out). It was cold, so I cradled my hands around her, sortof. It got a bit funny and annoying each time, because the bees did not seem to wish to go back down to hives or fly off. But the trouble turned into coaxing bees off in order to get back downstairs–and back to work– myself. I must have been a bunch warmer than the weather.
Sam's bee wing detailSince today is all about sharing the photographic spotlight, this picture represents a special guest appearance by my husband. He used an Intel kid's microscope hooked up to his PC to get this 60x magnification of a wing detail. Bees are in the class Hymenoptera, (honeybees are Apis mellifera, meaning "honey-bearing bee"), and the class name refers to the two united pairs of wings possessed by bees. It's therefore kind of cool that he got this shot. When the bees get stuck in puddles, it often seems as if their wings get pasted to the wet roof via surface tension, and drying them off seems to be a combination of watching the wings get less stuck together and hoping the breathing holes are clearing, too.
Two last things, the beekeeper's association that gave the class which enabled all this has a bulletin board for new beekeepers, and the moderator encouraged posting of pictures today (which is how I ripped off MaryEllen), so I decided to share the way in which digital photography helps me see, analyze, and understand what is going on upstairs. Hope it helps. I also volunteered to work at a festival in late June and early July that will feature beekeeping and honey. Don't worry, there will be pictures...

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