Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Tiny bees in a white prickly poppy flower

with 32 comments

I don’t know about the species of these tiny bees, but the flower they’re reveling in is Argemone albiflora, the white prickly poppy. This picture comes from June 14th along the Capital of Texas Highway.


The other day I watched a roughly one-hour-long talk given by economics professor Glenn Loury. Toward the end he became impassioned at times about the need to better educate African-American students so they can fairly compete intellectually. If you’d like to hear the last part of his talk, you can begin listening at around 54:10 and continue to 1:03:00 in the video.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 5, 2021 at 5:46 AM

32 Responses

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  1. I love these white poppies. I’ve never seen a bee that tiny. Bee ants?


    July 5, 2021 at 8:01 AM

  2. It’s always fun to see multiple insects on a bloom. I suppose the smaller the insect, the bigger the party in the pollen. These colors are interesting. Is there a chance you used flash to highlight the bees and the lobed stigma? I can’t remember seeing such a view of the stigma; it’s really something.


    July 5, 2021 at 8:06 AM

    • Not just a chance, but a certainty of flash. It produced colors a little too washed out for my taste, but I needed the shutter speed (1/500) and depth of field (f/25) to get a sharp image of the tiny bees, which were in almost constant motion. Flash let me me party to that party in the pollen.

      The stigma in this species is something indeed. It came out sharpest in a picture in which the bees weren’t at their best, so I copied and pasted the sharpest stigma into the frame that best showed the bees. Call it a kind of simple manual focus-stacking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2021 at 8:15 AM

  3. The tiny bees believe in peaceful coexistence, something humans could learn from them.

    Peter Klopp

    July 5, 2021 at 9:22 AM

    • You’ve raised an interesting question: do these bees always coexist or do they sometimes fight with each other?

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2021 at 7:22 PM

  4. Those are indeed tiny bees, nicely detailed in the complex flower center.


    July 5, 2021 at 8:26 PM

  5. When you say that you can’t doubt me, what is it that you don’t doubt me about?

    Steve Schwartzman

    July 5, 2021 at 8:51 PM

  6. If I were a bee I would revel in that yellow centre too.


    July 5, 2021 at 10:15 PM

  7. Gregarious bunch but hard to get a good look at that size.

    Steve Gingold

    July 6, 2021 at 2:24 AM

    • The 50-megapixel images yield more detail, but still not as much as we’d like. Even if my 100mm macro lens could’ve focused closer (I don’t remember if it could), that would’ve made it harder to stop the bees’ movements.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2021 at 6:33 AM

  8. I listened to some (at the beginning and towards the end) of Glen Loury’s speech. He is a persuasive speaker.


    July 6, 2021 at 3:13 AM

    • Thanks for listening. I find his messages persuasive. Not surprisingly, many on the political left vilify him.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2021 at 6:27 AM

  9. A bundle of busy bees! I love it when these little ones are in flowers, but the most I’ve ever seen is 2 or 3 at a time. You had a bee bonanza.


    July 6, 2021 at 10:11 AM

  10. Nice! I really like the idea of getting so close that you remove the background entirely. Excellent!!


    July 7, 2021 at 2:43 PM

    • Moving in close enough that no part of the background gets included in a picture is sometimes an esthetic choice. In this case the tiny size of the bees necessitated it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2021 at 2:56 PM

  11. Again, I should not have clicked on the link.
    I went to school with ‘ethnic’ people who were, to some degree, patronized. The kids of Vietnamese descent were not bothered by it because they were so beyond it. Brent went both ways on the subject. He recognizes that many people of African descent are disadvantaged, but also does not believe in lowering standards. My career conformed ideally to my Italian and white heritage (although my ancestors who are of Italian descent have been in America longer than most white people). Brent was the ONLY person of African descent studying horticulture at our school at the time. In the late 1980s, there were still a few people who were racist, and there were many who engaged Brent like someone who was very ‘special’. Even now, some of his clients prefer doing business with ‘people of color’. It makes me cringe. Although I know it is all well intended (except the old fashioned racism), it seems to be rather trivializing. Elsewhere in our industries (Brent and I are in very different industries), lowering standards has had disastrous results. The International Society of Arboriculture certified arborists who do not speak English. The exams can be taken in Spanish. Once certified, arborists can earn CEU (credits) for recertification by attending seminars that they can not understand. I do not know what such certification is good for, since reports written in Spanish are useless for a town council of people who speak primarily English. (Part of our work is writing reports for tree removal permits, which are presented to town council or other local government officials.) After graduating high school and then earning my degree in horticulture (and studying Latin and French, and to a minor degree, Spanish and Italian) I am expected to learn Spanish to fluently communicate with people who have not bothered to get through the sixth grade, or even learn English, even though they are presented with every opportunity to do so. It has been a major problem through my career. Look at this post: https://tonytomeo.com/2018/03/18/shady-msds-yes-another-sequel/


    July 7, 2021 at 8:51 PM

    • I appreciate your detailed reply. I have an advanced degree in linguistics and have studied varying amounts of Latin, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Catalan, Russian, and Hebrew. I love language. At the same time, I believe people who come to this country need to learn English, and our federal and local governments should not be printing documents and signs in multiple foreign languages.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 8, 2021 at 6:56 AM

      • Well, . . . I grew up with kids from Vietnam. I never learned a single word of Vietnamese from them. They not only believed that it was unnecessary, but inappropriate. Most spoke English before they left Vietnam, and those who did not speak it fluently when they left made a point of learning immediately after arriving here. They actually wanted to be American.
        I have no problem with some of my colleagues refusing to speak or even learn American English. That is their choice. However, I do have a problem with any of them ‘expecting’ American society to accommodate their inability to speak American English. They must be accountable for their choices. If they dislike the consequences of an inability to speak American English they always have the option to learn to speak it. In my career, it has been insulting that the ability to speak fluent Mexican Spanish is more important than horticultural proficiency. However, being insulted is considered to be racist. Disdain for American English is racist.


        July 8, 2021 at 8:24 PM

        • My grandmother, who was in her 40s when she came to America, went to night school to study English. She always spoke English with a strong accent, but she learned.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 8, 2021 at 9:53 PM

          • That is what Americans do. They do what it takes to be American. Those who do not want to be American have the option of going somewhere else. They are taking up space and resources that someone else who wants to be American could use. I certainly do not mind new Americans who have not learned to speak American English yet, even if it takes them a long time. Heck, they do not need to learn it at all if they do not want to. However, they should expect no special accommodation for their decisions.


            July 8, 2021 at 10:39 PM

  12. They sure are tiny ..and enjoying the poppy, obviously very tasty


    July 11, 2021 at 1:58 PM

  13. Beautiful pictures!

    Tatiana Hlinka

    September 22, 2021 at 8:11 PM

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