Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Like a sand dune

with 38 comments

Metallic Green Bee on the Palm of My Hand 8821

It may look as if this little metallic green bee had come to rest on the crest of a sand dune with a desert storm threatening to blow in from beyond. Actually the landing place was the heel of my left hand, which with difficulty I twisted around to make the bee parallel to the sensor in the camera that I held in my right hand and took photographs with. (Oh, unorthodox me, but I did get pictures of the bee.)

Like the last several photographs, this one is from the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, on June 20.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2016 at 4:58 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

38 Responses

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  1. Nice one Steve. I know how difficult this can be with one hand and to keep it steady. I love the distinctive green against the dune field.

    Pete Hillman

    August 28, 2016 at 5:28 AM

  2. I was wondering what those were in my garden. Thanks!

    Maria Gianna Iannucci

    August 28, 2016 at 5:40 AM

  3. Clearly, your camera-holding muscles are more developed than mine. Sure, I can pick up my camera one-handed, but hold it? Manipulate it? Take a photo without scaring away the subject or dropping it? That’s an ability worthy of admiration.

    The dune-like effect is great, and really sets off this little beauty. I read your comment a few days ago, on the damselfly post, about keeping the sensor parallel to the insect. I thought about that yesterday, and ended up with the best dragonfly photo I’ve yet taken.

    I must confess: every time I see Agapostemon I read it as Agamemnon. I suppose it’s the prefix that does it.


    August 28, 2016 at 7:44 AM

    • My camera-holding muscles are probably also achier than yours, something I’ve noticed at the end of a long photo session in nature. The fact that I use my right hand to manipulate the computer’s mouse for hours in Photoshop doesn’t help. What helps with stability when using my one-handed photo technique is leaning the camera against my cheek or forehead. I also use a shutter speed of 1/400 sec. or higher.

      As I mentioned a little while ago, I don’t know much about the optics of fancy lenses, but I do know that keeping a long subject as close to parallel with the sensor maximizes the portions of that subject that come out sharp in the resulting photographs. I’m pleased to hear that that approach worked for you with yesterday’s dragonfly.

      I’m assuming that Agapostemon means ‘love for stamens’ (compare penstemon ‘five stamens’), which seems apt for these bees. I looked but didn’t find anything trustworthy about the Aga- in either Agapostemon or Agamemnon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2016 at 8:46 AM

  4. That might inspire a new horror movie! 😉
    Have a great Sunday,


    August 28, 2016 at 7:46 AM

    • You have an active imagination. Actually these little bees, unlike some others, don’t have any animus toward people.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2016 at 9:00 AM

      • Well, I wouldn’t have thought so, either. But it somehow looked like a horror-movie script writer might use that picture. 😉


        August 28, 2016 at 9:02 AM

  5. Fabulous photo. A little jewel.

    Emily Scott

    August 28, 2016 at 3:25 PM

    • I love the iridescence. Do you have metallic green sweat bees in Britain?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2016 at 3:31 PM

      • If we do, I haven’t noticed them. I believe we do have some pretty green and shiny solitary wasps, though they are rarely seen.

        Emily Scott

        September 1, 2016 at 12:20 AM

  6. ‘Tis a wee pretty little bee. I recognized the skin texture right away, but am impressed that it stayed on your hand long enough to get off a shot.

    Steve Gingold

    August 28, 2016 at 6:09 PM

    • From looking at the metadata I can tell you that this little bee stayed on various parts of my hand for two minutes, during which time I managed to get off 27 pictures. Not all of them turned out well, but some did, and this was my favorite because of the dunes effect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2016 at 10:41 PM

  7. Dune! Oops, oh, I mean, Dude! If not for the wee bit of your skin that’s also in focus at left (and a bit more out of focus but recognizable, with a little imagination, in the foreground), you might well be able to pass that off as having been on a mini-dune. It’s so much fun to try to catch the wee folk when they land on us, and I never tire of the challenge, especially when they’re so small. I see agapostemon bees fairly frequently in our flowers, but I have yet to have one land on me. You must be (even) sweeter than your posts indicate.


    August 28, 2016 at 10:56 PM

    • The faint bluish color of a vein a bit to the left of center also gives this away as flesh rather than sand, but the shapes called out “sand dune” to me. It’s good to know, and probably not surprising, that you’re a veteran of the “critters that are wee that have landed on me” school of photography. As far as I recall, this was the first green sweat bee I’d ever photographed on myself. I’d let it stay on me permanently in return for the elimination of chiggers, mosquitoes, and fire ants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2016 at 7:53 AM

      • Yeah, I have the questionable benefit of considerable experience with mosquitoes and chiggers. I think I encountered fire ants once, in Florida, but seem to have successfully scourged it from active memory. You didn’t mention ticks, though–yet another pest for which I can divine no conceivably-useful purpose in the grand scheme of things. Or am I missing something?


        August 29, 2016 at 11:21 PM

        • I know people in other parts of the country have problems with ticks, and I encountered a couple in Illinois just in the two weeks I recently spent there. Ticks exist in the Austin area, but fortunately I’ve rarely found any on me in spite of all the time I spend trekking around in nature. Speaking strictly from that personal experience, I’d benefit much more from the elimination of chiggers, fire ants, and mosquitoes than from the elimination of ticks. I won’t complain, though, if you want to put them on the list of critters we’d be better off without.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 29, 2016 at 11:31 PM

  8. I have never seen a green bee before .. Top shot Steve


    August 29, 2016 at 3:18 AM

  9. It was sweat which was so attractive to the bee? I am impressed it spent so long upon your hand.


    August 30, 2016 at 5:49 AM

  10. What an excellent way to use the opportunity!


    August 30, 2016 at 12:09 PM

  11. […] the metallic green sweat bee that I photographed on my hand in Arkansas three months ago? On September 1st at Southeast […]

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