Blue Banded Bees ... 17 Images

MarkB1

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I made a mud brick with earth from under the roots of a fallen tree and drilled holes for the blue banded bees to nest in.

It took a while for any to take to it this year but a few did and would roost nearby, not a good year for the bees anyway.

In passing I noticed some unexpected activity and bent to investigate. Flies … spiders and others, no surprise really.

Where there’s space for it, life takes form, form dies, and life goes on.


1. The BBB likes to make a nest by tunneling into dry clay, where it’s sheltered from the elements. Females sleep in the tunnels, males roosting nearby, as a general rule.
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2. From a hole in the side of the mud brick this fly emerged, staggered, looking fresh as … Could be a youngster, I think.
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3. This one, a brother perhaps, stumbled out of the same hole and was promptly entangled in a spiders web just below.
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*

The Blue Banded Bee can be found sheltering from the cold dark sky under cover of the star jasmine, holding on to dried out stems.

They won’t give up, that’s not their nature. Come sunrise they will be away once more, seen doing what they do best, buzzing about the gardens nectar pots.

No worries about getting through the winter, no fear of death. None of that nonsense for the intrepid BBB.


4. No fancy camera work, just what I could get without disturbing them. Don’t want to be the death of any this close to ‘winter’.
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5. Proud little thing, comfortable being a bee, alert for non bee things in the cold dark night.
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*

Colder and colder, fewer and fewer, the Blue Banded Bees are making a heroic effort at surviving. They also have the sense to shelter from the cold clear sky at night, hanging from a thread.

Literally, life on a thread for these guys. Always somewhere near the nest where the females would usually be. A few of them about the garden during the day.

Still some flowers blooming on our warm winter days, enough to keep a few bees fuelled up for their frantic paced flight.

Fly little fireball, to the end of … burn up the form with the passage of the sun.


6.
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7.
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8.
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9.
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10.
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*

The Last BBB …

One by one they disappeared over the last couple weeks, not missed as they go, but acknowledged then gone.

The seasons turn with the place of the sun and in our orbital world what turns re-turns.

So in the depths of winter, spring is burgeoning behind the barren view.

Well, it’s all relative, isn’t it.

Until it’s not …


11. This is the actual last one, an image of. Hanging on under a cold full moon recent nights. With a little luck nature will have populated my mud brick hotels for next season, little B’s asleep. I might move them to a warmer location, soon to catch springs morning sun.
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12. From the recent Bee Purple, you take what shots are available, priority being to leave no footprint in the sand of their sensible lives. Except perhaps the sight and smell and taste of blooming aromatic nectar filled flowers. They do enjoy that.
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13. There appears to be two different kinds of BBB, or is it ages. The dark coloured, full orange fur coated ones being a bit bigger and just looking more mature. I haven’t watched them so close to know, and does it really matter …
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Intelligence self evident, only the self absorbed cannot see, lost in the labyrinthine tunnels of a wholly imagined world. Lost to the world of sense, where these creatures reign. Every one a king or queen behind, each in mortal form below, where all does come and go.

*

Well, maybe not the last BBB after all ...

Though the actual form is gone the image lingers.

Invoking all the same reactions, suspected real enough.

Like here, appearing to represent something more substantial.

When, after examining the usual places, it appears there is nothing supporting.

Another image, it lingers still, insistent upon acknowledgement, as all life does.

But not to judge the situation, that we make it so, or something else.

The roiling pressure shapes the body, as the mind, in there.

No mystery to the mechanical, but behind, another matter.

Or maybe no matter at all, just requires seeing.

We’ll see … when all’s done, and not.

What ghosts endure.

The sunlight.


14. Lion of the garden, a Blue Banded Bee long gone now. No doubt his essence is passed on, maybe next years bees will shine so.
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15. Disturbed at night, see his spurs … A frog or … might have objection to them. He went back to sleep, from the dream of waking.
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16. Still dreaming, a much bigger bite than at first sight. Instinctive defense from the nights stem climbing predators.
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17. And just for a change, the angle is relative, down is often how they hang. Magnificent little Blue Banded Bee.
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MarkB1

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Joined
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Messages
678
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Australia
Another great set of photos and story.

We are in the process trying to make our garden more insect friendly and are starting to see some results.
Thanks RFL. It's a job getting a garden going, and then it has a life of its own but still needs management. you might consider getting some native bee houses for the place.
 

retiredfromlife

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Thanks RFL. It's a job getting a garden going, and then it has a life of its own but still needs management. you might consider getting some native bee houses for the place.
I have received some short sections of logs that I am thinking of drilling out. What size hole do you use? I think we have some native bees but I cant tell the difference to the native flies it seems.
 

Macroramphosis

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Gee, thanks Mark.... just when I think I’m getting somewhere on this macro journey you have to post some more photos to remind me how far I have yet to travel....sigh

Brilliant set. Are you still using the O60 and an achromat ? I can’t see your exit this end.
 

MarkB1

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Messages
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Gee, thanks Mark.... just when I think I’m getting somewhere on this macro journey you have to post some more photos to remind me how far I have yet to travel....sigh
Brilliant set. Are you still using the O60 and an achromat ? I can’t see your exit this end.
Ha, ha ... How else do we learn but to reach for something someone else has done, me too. :)

Once you have the basics it's really a matter of practise to make it second nature. Have you read my take on macro? Second sig link. Others who have mastered the art in their own way also have similar works. It is said to take 7 years to master a language, it's no different for anything else.

Yes, still using the same old stuff. t's really the lighting that matters most.

I have received some short sections of logs that I am thinking of drilling out. What size hole do you use? I think we have some native bees but I cant tell the difference to the native flies it seems.
I have a few logs hanging under the house, sheltered from the rain. They are populated by orange tail resin bees, must get a few hundred through the season, but lots. They must be protected from the rain and birds and ants - I grease the hanging lines so nothing comes down them, and hang lengths of rope to discourage the birds from picking them off as the return to nest. Holes are drilled to 4 or 5 inches, between 8 and 14mm diameter. You can also use bamboo stacks, straws, whatever.

The BBB's like the mud bricks, google is your friend.
 

Ross the fiddler

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Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
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Thanks Mark. Another fantastic set & information, not to mention the poetic story to go with it. :2thumbs:
Have you ever encountered any Neon Cuckoo Bees with the Blue Banded Bees since they will lay their eggs in their nests?
I'll have to check out our star jasmine more closely at the right time to see if the BBB sleeps in it at all. Most likely none around now though.

EDIT: I am feeling rather worried now for our bees as we cleaned up old logs down our fence, burning them in our wood burner. :crying:
 

Macroramphosis

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Ha, ha ... How else do we learn but to reach for something someone else has done, me too. :)

Once you have the basics it's really a matter of practise to make it second nature. Have you read my take on macro? Second sig link. Others who have mastered the art in their own way also have similar works. It is said to take 7 years to master a language, it's no different for anything else.

Yes, still using the same old stuff. t's really the lighting that matters most.
Yes, been to your page a long time ago after you pointed it to me over Flickr. I am now a long-term 'stick' user too, thanks to you. That one single tip was the best bit of macro advice I have ever found - thank you for that.

Lighting is what it is all about, for sure. I'm still on that road, and still to buy a flash. I reply on natural light or LED light presently. I have a long way to go :D

Thanks for the reply and your photos, as always, are superb.
 
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MarkB1

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Australia
Thanks Mark. Another fantastic set & information, not to mention the poetic story to go with it. :2thumbs:
Have you ever encountered any Neon Cuckoo Bees with the Blue Banded Bees since they will lay their eggs in their nests?
I'll have to check out our star jasmine more closely at the right time to see if the BBB sleeps in it at all. Most likely none around now though.

EDIT: I am feeling rather worried now for our bees as we cleaned up old logs down our fence, burning them in our wood burner. :crying:
Thanks Ross. A search of my site for 'Neon' gets this - neon | Search Results | Nature's Place - some posted, some not got around to yet. There may be more but they are an elusive bee, and not numerous.

The BBB only uses the jasmine because there is a BBB nest in easy reach of it. It's more to d with the shelter afforded and the diameter and age (dead and dried out usually) of the stem, so they can grip it and go to sleep.

Old logs are habitat for much else, especially if there's rot or holes in it. I leave old wood about the place, strategically positioned for shelter from rain and drilled for nest sites for whatever comes along.

Yes, been to your page a long time ago after you pointed it to me over Flickr. I am not a long-term 'stick' user too, thanks to you. That one single tip was the best bit of macro advice I have ever found - thank you for that.

Lighting is what it is all about, for sure. I'm still on that road, and still to buy a flash. I reply on natural light or LED light presently. I have a long way to go :D

Thanks for the reply and your photos, as always, are superb.
It's an evolution, from what works well enough for now to what works better. Takes time in other words.

All the best with your work. And thanks for taking the time to comment.

BTW, LED won't help with macro except to throw a little light for focussing - they may have evolved since I looked at it but I doubt it. The main reasons I use flash is I can control the light with snooting and diffusion at short working distances, and the flash is the effect shutter speed at up to 1/20,000 sec. You need flash to stop the motion of anything moving at macro magnifications, there's no way around that.
 
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Mikehit

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Messages
367
What a stunning collection, Mark.
And your web page is inspirational in showing how simple it really is (apart from the unavoidable practice, of course).
 

MarkB1

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Messages
678
Location
Australia
What a stunning collection, Mark.
And your web page is inspirational in showing how simple it really is (apart from the unavoidable practice, of course).
Ha, ha ... Yes, it's unavoidable. You have to have a love of it to spend the time to master it.

Thanks Mike.
 

Macroramphosis

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BTW, LED won't help with macro except to throw a little light for focussing - they may have evolved since I looked at it but I doubt it. The main reasons I use flash is I can control the light with snooting and diffusion at short working distances, and the flash is the effect shutter speed at up to 1/20,000 sec. You need flash to stop the motion of anything moving at macro magnifications, there's no way around that.
Definitely time to revisit LED lighting then, Mark. There are a huge range of lights available now, with many different tints to choose from in LED emitter choice, and some of the newer lights have infinite ramping, so one can go from zero-moonlight to full blast, as you wish. One of my torches is a 5,000 lumen light with Nichia 219C emitters, which in conjunction with a homemade diffuser can light an entire bush in warm sunlight on a dull day, for example. And once you are doing that then you can shoot in full manual with whatever shutter speed you want, almost. Adjustable WB makes LED life nowadays very easy, too :D

None of this detracts from what you have said about flashes though, and I am looking forward one day to buying one and seeing how they work for me. If I can shoot some stuff that halfway approaches yours, I'll be a happier man.
 

MarkB1

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Messages
678
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Australia
Absolutely stunning images, Mark!
Thanks K... Appreciated.

Definitely time to revisit LED lighting then, Mark. There are a huge range of lights available now, with many different tints to choose from in LED emitter choice, and some of the newer lights have infinite ramping, so one can go from zero-moonlight to full blast, as you wish. One of my torches is a 5,000 lumen light with Nichia 219C emitters, which in conjunction with a homemade diffuser can light an entire bush in warm sunlight on a dull day, for example. And once you are doing that then you can shoot in full manual with whatever shutter speed you want, almost. Adjustable WB makes LED life nowadays very easy, too :D

None of this detracts from what you have said about flashes though, and I am looking forward one day to buying one and seeing how they work for me. If I can shoot some stuff that halfway approaches yours, I'll be a happier man.
Sounds complicated ... some day, maybe someone will do a simple article for us noobs to led. :)

@MarkB1 Superb images and fantastic narrative: blown away by both. Thank you.
Thanks Andrew, appreciated.
 

archaeopteryx

Gambian sidling bush
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Messages
1,275
some day, maybe someone will do a simple article for us noobs to LED
I think I've inadvertently fallen into kind of working on one, though it'll probably be in the form of a review post summarizing options along with how well whatever it is I end up choosing works out as an improvement from my current arrangement which leaves much to be desired. I suspect @Macroramphosis may suggest some adjustments here and @Bushboy might be looking into this as well. But, to attempt a succinct summary, there's an extensive market for high CRI/TLCI light emitters and macro easily pushes current technology to its limits. For providing continuous lighting in the field, I would break these into four categories.
  1. Roughly phone sized, bright, Li-ion video fill light panels such as those made by Iwata and Sunwayfoto. These obtain 95+ CRI/98 TLCI and 3000-5500 K colour temperatures from arrays of 70-150 neural white and cool white LEDs. They're 25-30 times larger than a macro subject at 1x, meaning some light is wasted but also that they provide the large angular coverage desirable in a macro diffuser. Rated brightnesses are around 4000 lux at 30 cm, about 4.5 stops below sunlight (roughly 100k lux), but an increase of 1-2 stops should be obtainable by placing them closer to the subject.
  2. High CRI EDC (everyday carry) and mini thrower torches (called flashlights in American English). These use 1-7 LEDs of the same type, typically providing 90+ CRI and 1000-30,000+ lux at 4000 K, though 93-95+ CRI and 5000+ K can sometimes be found. There are many manufacturers, such as Zebralight and Nitecore, so generally it's most effective search by emitter. Currently, Nichia 219s are probably the most commonly used high CRI LEDs but Luminus SST, Cree XP-L2, and other emitters are also used. Torches using multiple emitter types as fill lights do are rare but two (or more) torches can be used similarly.
  3. Small, somewhat directional video lights which resemble crosses between fill panels and torches. Usually less than 500 lux at 1 m and often somewhat bulky, so not particularly competitive with either fills or torches. Litra is something of an exception, though.
  4. Ultra high CRI LEDs such as the Nichia Optisolis. Not currently found in fill lights or torches but potentially of interest if one is considering building or modifying lights. We have a DIY diffuser thread and diffusers with integrated LEDs are a logical next step (there's a substantial flashlight modding community and parts are readily available), though I don't think anyone's done it just yet.
As @Macroramphosis mentioned, it's likely most desirable to shine a single torch on a diffuser. Another approach is two, three, or more torches at different angles. Multiple torches are potentially more flexible than fill lights, less of a sky replacement, and can be brighter. But they're a bit more complex in practice as there's more mounting, arrangement, switches to mind, and batteries to charge. Multiple torches can also easily be more expensive than a fill light.

One of my torches is a 5,000 lumen light with Nichia 219C emitters
Which torches are you using? I presume you're setting white balance to the Kelvin provided by the combination of ambient and torchlight, with that becoming something close to the rated temperature of the torch as its light comes to dominate the exposure.

I'm currently undecided but am hesitant about something like a Sunwayfoto FL-96 fill light as a next step. 10k lux is EV 12---f/8 1/30 at ISO 200---which is just enough for the 4k post focus autofocus bracketing I do. (1/30 is the minimum shutter speed for post focus and my widest effective apertures are in the f/7-9 range, meaning base ISO up to ISO 520 with the lens a stop down.) Sunway specs the FL-96 at 4k lux at 30 cm at 100% power, so it may not reach 10k lux placed close to a macro subject. I've demonstrated 12k lux with a 150 lumen torch on P95 acrylic (a high transmission diffuser) but the limited power requires care in setup and is prone to hotspotting. 250+ lumens from two or more (non-floody) torches or video lights would likely be preferable as the power margin should allow more flexibility and multiple sources allow more control over the extent of key lighting.

If one's focus bracketing at slower shutter speeds or faster effective apertures then lux requirements are correspondingly relaxed. Combining an undiffused torch with video fill might also work well for soft keying. Both natural lighting and the fill panels are continuously variable. However, most flashlights aren't and middle brightness settings may use PWM frequencies low enough to vary exposures. Colour temperatures also decline at lower drive levels. Makes assembling a lighting system where all of the sources can be flexibly combined with natural light more complex than I'd like.

My current LED sources are two specified at 3000 K 88 lumen and others which seem about 3500 K 75 lumen, 4000 K 50 lumen, and 5000K 150 lumen. All are probably around 70 CRI. Whilst I understand the mathematics of colour correction, 4000 K or below seems too warm to be ideal for plant photography seeking to replicate sunny (~5500 K) to cloudy (~6500 K) colours. Daylight emitters in torches other than low power, medical inspection lights seem rare, though Jaxman and Convoy offer Nichia 219 90 CRI 5700 K options.
 
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poetsie

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Messages
51
I made a mud brick with earth from under the roots of a fallen tree and drilled holes for the blue banded bees to nest in.

It took a while for any to take to it this year but a few did and would roost nearby, not a good year for the bees anyway.

In passing I noticed some unexpected activity and bent to investigate. Flies … spiders and others, no surprise really.

Where there’s space for it, life takes form, form dies, and life goes on.


1. The BBB likes to make a nest by tunneling into dry clay, where it’s sheltered from the elements. Females sleep in the tunnels, males roosting nearby, as a general rule.
View attachment 757444

2. From a hole in the side of the mud brick this fly emerged, staggered, looking fresh as … Could be a youngster, I think.
View attachment 757445

3. This one, a brother perhaps, stumbled out of the same hole and was promptly entangled in a spiders web just below.
View attachment 757446

*

The Blue Banded Bee can be found sheltering from the cold dark sky under cover of the star jasmine, holding on to dried out stems.

They won’t give up, that’s not their nature. Come sunrise they will be away once more, seen doing what they do best, buzzing about the gardens nectar pots.

No worries about getting through the winter, no fear of death. None of that nonsense for the intrepid BBB.


4. No fancy camera work, just what I could get without disturbing them. Don’t want to be the death of any this close to ‘winter’.
View attachment 757447

5. Proud little thing, comfortable being a bee, alert for non bee things in the cold dark night.
View attachment 757448

*

Colder and colder, fewer and fewer, the Blue Banded Bees are making a heroic effort at surviving. They also have the sense to shelter from the cold clear sky at night, hanging from a thread.

Literally, life on a thread for these guys. Always somewhere near the nest where the females would usually be. A few of them about the garden during the day.

Still some flowers blooming on our warm winter days, enough to keep a few bees fuelled up for their frantic paced flight.

Fly little fireball, to the end of … burn up the form with the passage of the sun.


6.
View attachment 757449

7.
View attachment 757450

8.
View attachment 757451

9.
View attachment 757452

10.
View attachment 757453

*

The Last BBB …

One by one they disappeared over the last couple weeks, not missed as they go, but acknowledged then gone.

The seasons turn with the place of the sun and in our orbital world what turns re-turns.

So in the depths of winter, spring is burgeoning behind the barren view.

Well, it’s all relative, isn’t it.

Until it’s not …


11. This is the actual last one, an image of. Hanging on under a cold full moon recent nights. With a little luck nature will have populated my mud brick hotels for next season, little B’s asleep. I might move them to a warmer location, soon to catch springs morning sun.
View attachment 757454

12. From the recent Bee Purple, you take what shots are available, priority being to leave no footprint in the sand of their sensible lives. Except perhaps the sight and smell and taste of blooming aromatic nectar filled flowers. They do enjoy that.
View attachment 757455

13. There appears to be two different kinds of BBB, or is it ages. The dark coloured, full orange fur coated ones being a bit bigger and just looking more mature. I haven’t watched them so close to know, and does it really matter …
View attachment 757456

Intelligence self evident, only the self absorbed cannot see, lost in the labyrinthine tunnels of a wholly imagined world. Lost to the world of sense, where these creatures reign. Every one a king or queen behind, each in mortal form below, where all does come and go.

*

Well, maybe not the last BBB after all ...

Though the actual form is gone the image lingers.

Invoking all the same reactions, suspected real enough.

Like here, appearing to represent something more substantial.

When, after examining the usual places, it appears there is nothing supporting.

Another image, it lingers still, insistent upon acknowledgement, as all life does.

But not to judge the situation, that we make it so, or something else.

The roiling pressure shapes the body, as the mind, in there.

No mystery to the mechanical, but behind, another matter.

Or maybe no matter at all, just requires seeing.

We’ll see … when all’s done, and not.

What ghosts endure.

The sunlight.


14. Lion of the garden, a Blue Banded Bee long gone now. No doubt his essence is passed on, maybe next years bees will shine so.
View attachment 757457

15. Disturbed at night, see his spurs … A frog or … might have objection to them. He went back to sleep, from the dream of waking.
View attachment 757458

16. Still dreaming, a much bigger bite than at first sight. Instinctive defense from the nights stem climbing predators.
View attachment 757459

17. And just for a change, the angle is relative, down is often how they hang. Magnificent little Blue Banded Bee.
View attachment 757460
Amazing pics and magnificent details very very well done
 
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