Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Little metallic sweat bee on a partridge pea flower

with 32 comments

As you’ve heard in a couple of recent posts, I photographed a bunch of partridge pea plants (Chamaecrista fasciculata) along Wells Branch Parkway on August 13th. At one point I got intrigued by the way a compound leaf cast its shadow on one petal of a partridge pea flower. Not long after I started taking pictures of that, a metallic sweat bee came by to visit the flower. The bee kept moving around and more often than not stayed fully or partly hidden behind petals. Oh well, we photographers do what we can, testing our reflexes to grab quick shots when our subjects briefly come out in the open.

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Ever since Covid-19 vaccines became more and more available in early 2021, reasonable folks began to wonder about people who’d gotten Covid-19, recovered from it, and therefore had what’s called natural immunity. One question was whether those who’ve acquired natural immunity still need to get vaccinated. Related to that was the question of whether vaccines might cause any harm to people with natural immunity.

For the past several months, the United States government has been saying with increasing vehemence that people with natural immunity must still get vaccinated, all the while declining to offer scientific evidence for the need and safety of that position. Jurisdictions and institutions that have begun calling for proof of vaccination to do various things (for example attend sporting events, eat in restaurants, or even come to work) have refused to exempt Covid-recovered people, even though their immunity has been generally believed to be at least as strong as the one provided by vaccines.

Such stances are political, not scientific. Look at the opening sentence from an August 26th online article published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science: “The natural immune protection that develops after a SARS-CoV-2 infection offers considerably more of a shield against the Delta variant of the pandemic coronavirus than two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to a large Israeli study….” The article goes on to give advice to people who have neither had the virus not gotten vaccinated against it: people in that group should get vaccinated. They should not toy with the idea of acquiring immunity by subjecting themselves to the virus, because some people who contract the virus get seriously ill and even die.

I encourage you to read the full article. You may also want to read a similar August 27th article on the ZME Science website. It points out that people who recovered from Covid-19 and then also had a single shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine ended up with even stronger protection than those with naturally acquired immunity alone.

Now that there’s solid scientific confirmation that naturally acquired Covid immunity “offers considerably more of a shield against the Delta variant of the pandemic coronavirus than two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” will American government jurisdictions stop saying that naturally immune people still need to get two shots of the Pfizer (or Moderna) vaccine? Will institutions that call for proof of vaccination now accept proof of naturally acquired immunity in lieu of vaccination? Don’t hold your breath.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2021 at 4:34 AM

32 Responses

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  1. That appears to be the same species I posted today. Another cross country coincidence. I am envious of your bee’s thorax.

    Steve Gingold

    August 28, 2021 at 4:41 AM

    • Actually I think I am mistaken. Yours appears to have a green abdomen where mine is stiped. My bad.

      Steve Gingold

      August 28, 2021 at 4:50 AM

      • Your second though is correct. All of the metallic green sweat bees I’ve seen in Austin have had green abdomens. I’ve never seen bold black and yellow stripes like those on the abdomen of the sweat bee in the picture you posted today. We’ll still have Paris—or at least the coincidence of having shown metallic sweat bees on the same morning.

        Steve Schwartzman

        August 28, 2021 at 5:23 AM

        • Paris, TX? It was up at 2:30 and commented before going back to bed so that’s my excuse for not paying better attention. Lame but it is truth.

          Steve Gingold

          August 28, 2021 at 9:36 AM

          • I was making an obscure reference to “Casablanca,” where Humphrey Bogart tells Ingrid Bergman several times “We’ll always have Paris.” What I meant was that we’ll still have the coincidence of posting metallic sweat bees, even if different ones.

            Steve Schwartzman

            August 28, 2021 at 10:17 AM

            • Not so obscure and I got it but decided to change it up for humor. I made the exact same reference a few posts of yours back about our differences of political opinions.

              Steve Gingold

              August 28, 2021 at 10:21 AM

              • Then that’s probably why it popped into my head and therefore wasn’t so obscure after all. And yes, there is a Paris, Texas, and a 1984 movie of that name which I finally saw for the first time last year.

                Steve Schwartzman

                August 28, 2021 at 11:25 AM

    • By “envious of your bee’s thorax” I take it you mean that it came out so green in the photograph, as you mentioned being unhappy with what flash did to the coloring on your sweat bee. Speaking of that: my Canon Speedlite 430 EX II died last month after years of service (though I didn’t use it all that much). I checked online and learned that Canon has since come out with the 430 EX III, which I went to look at at my local camera store. They had a used one but were out of stock on new ones. For less than the price of the used one, and much less than the price of a new Canon, I ended up buying a Chinese off-brand, Godox. So far it has worked fine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 5:38 AM

      • Yes to the flash effect. For the same reason, I purchased a Chinese off brand, Younyuo which has performed well aside from altering the color of flash points which probably is just physics and not the flash’s fault. My Canon Speedlight is the 550EX but I rarely use it also.

        Steve Gingold

        August 28, 2021 at 9:34 AM

        • I’ve also got the 550 EX, which I didn’t use all that often. I accidentally left a set of batteries in it some years ago and they leaked. I was able to get three of the batteries out but a fourth is still stuck in there. Even if I could get it out and clean the inside of the compartment, I don’t know if the unit would still function.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 28, 2021 at 10:12 AM

          • If you are a member of Canon Professional Services, which is a good deal, it might be repairable but if you don’t or won’t use it much then maybe not worth it. I started out with the free membership but upped it to Gold. I send my cameras in about twice a year for the “free” cleaning and calibration with updates. When I dropped my 180 last year they got it repaired and back to me quickly with a free loaner in the interim.

            Steve Gingold

            August 28, 2021 at 10:18 AM

            • I remember your enthusiasm for Canon Professional Services. After I heard about it from you I did join for one year at the Gold level and sent in the maximum allowed bodies and lenses. Now that I’ve got the new Godox flash, I don’t think it’d be worth it to pay to get the old 550 EX repaired.

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 28, 2021 at 11:22 AM

  2. Patience and persistence are needed when you want as a photographer to combine several moving objects, such as an insect, a shadow cast by another plant and perhaps the flower itself swaying in the wind.

    Peter Klopp

    August 28, 2021 at 8:50 AM

    • Fortunately in this case there was no wind, so the flower and the shadow were stable. All the contrariety came from the little bee, which hardly ever stopped moving.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 10:04 AM

  3. Nicely detailed and an attractive setting. This is the all-green halictid bee species I’m familiar with. It’s always great when you can capture a quick-moving visitor at a flower you’re photographing.


    August 28, 2021 at 9:13 AM

    • Yes, it is. I’ve had plenty of failures, as I think we all have. The good thing is that with enough attempts we inevitably get some successes. The all-green metallic sweat bees are the only kind I’ve seen in Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 10:07 AM

  4. Well caught! It really does look metallic and looks great against the flower and leaves.

    Ann Mackay

    August 28, 2021 at 9:58 AM

    • These little metallic green bees aren’t uncommon here, so I’ve had many chances to photograph them. They’re always fun to see.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 10:13 AM

  5. I’m always excited when I see a metallic bee and fortunately, it’s pretty common as they’re common in my gardens. The only native bee whose population is down this year (February’s storm?) is the Horsefly-like carpenter bee. I miss them and they’re my favorite of the native bees. That’s a lovely shot!


    August 28, 2021 at 12:01 PM

    • I’m always excited to see these metallic green bees, too. As you say, they’re relatively common, more so in my experience than carpenter bees—or maybe I’m just not distinguishing carpenter bees from bumblebees. There’s no mistaking the metallic green of the subject in today’s picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 1:57 PM

  6. It’s a beautiful jewel-toned green and really pops on that yellow bloom.


    August 28, 2021 at 12:15 PM

  7. There’s nothing like a little metallic sweat to remind us that summer still be here. If it be on a pretty yellow flower, all the better. Your title threw me right back to Liberia, where constructions like, “That flower, it be pretty” were common. I suspect that’s not a typo in your title, but word play — it made me laugh.

    As for the bee itself, it’s gorgeous. I always try for a photo when I come across one of these. There’s just something about metallic insects that appeals in a special way; they so often resemble little jewels.


    August 28, 2021 at 5:49 PM

    • Could be it’s the be all and end all of sweat bees! Could also be you’ve reminded me of the various suggestions for jewelry you’ve made over the years; it’s be-yond me to count how many.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 7:29 PM

  8. Good catch, the photo. In my understanding there’s no compelling reason why a recovered covid-19 patient must get vaccinated. The reason is for the most part related to bureaucracy. A recovered patient has antibodies against different proteins of the viral capsule whereas a vaccinated person with the mRNA vaccine has antibodies only against the spike protein. There’s no evidence that being vaccinated after recovery harms anyone, and it might even confer added protection since the spike protein plays a key role in the process of infecting the host cells, but I agree that it should be up to the individual. I think that those who sue for their right to defer vaccination if they have been infected, have a good chance to win a case.

    Alessandra Chaves

    August 28, 2021 at 6:18 PM

    • The large Israeli study found the greatest protection in the people who had recovered from Covid and then got one Pfizer shot. Like you, my sister feels bureaucracy is responsible for the “recovered people must get fully vaccinated anyhow” attitude. I’m not sure I’ve heard about people who’ve recovered from Covid suing for the right not to be vaccinated. I do hope they’ll win. The Israeli study is probably their best evidence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2021 at 10:21 PM

      • I believe the current recommendation, at least in CA, is that those who have recovered only take one dose of one mRNA vaccine.

        Alessandra Chaves

        August 29, 2021 at 4:46 AM

  9. Israel has recently reintroduced Green Pass and Purple Badge restrictions. A Green Pass can be issued to a person who can prove recovery from Covid but the Pass for the recovered covid person is only valid up to Dec 2021. Denmark which uses a similar green pass system will be lifting those restrictions on 10 September because 71% of the population is now fully vaccinated. A similar Green pass system to Israel’s should be possible in the US, but would people be willing to use it? https://www.timesofisrael.com/cabinet-okays-new-restrictions-on-shops-and-venues-as-cases-spike-further/


    August 29, 2021 at 4:48 AM

    • Thanks for the link to that article about Israel. The delta variant seems to be the cause of the upsurge from what had been a situation under control. Presumably the expiration date of the Green Pass will be re-evaluated toward the end of the year to determine how well naturally acquired immunity is holding up. At the end of the article I could help noticing the same political sniping there as here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2021 at 5:58 AM

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