It was one of the first truly sunny and warm days that felt deeply of Spring. I rolled out of bed; thrilled and anxious. When people asked what I was up to I responded with an enthusiastic grin and said, "Having an action photo shoot with our bees".
Our friend Derek had (bravely) suggested the idea. Derek and his family are among our favorite pollinator friends that we've met through honey parties. When I asked him if he would photograph a honey party for us - he said sure. Could he come into the hive with us for a seriously up close and personal bee experience?
Side note: on top of being a down to earth and cool guy- he also takes some of the most stunning photographs you've ever seen. You can follow his adventures on Facebook. I highly suggest you do because how many down to earth, cool people do you have on your news feed that volunteer to go into beehives on their day off? If you answered, "not enough" here's your chance to change that.
I was nervous. The thick leather gloves we typically wear when going into the hive were too bulky to allow freedom with the camera and lenses. We discussed the options and made compromises where we felt he would be protected and had an exit plan if he began to feel uncomfortable or threatened.
We readied our smoker with the horse hoof mushrooms (a natural smoking material). Everyone suited up. Methodically, we disassembled the hive to check its environment and population. The wonder of this activity has always been, and I imagine always will be, nothing short of magical. The fresh honey glistened in the uncapped combs; the female worker bees scurried about their duties like white rabbits who overslept the Spring; the different cells of baby bees ringed with semicircles of pollen and honey for easy access to feed the developing brood. This world is a wonder to beehold.
The bees paid us no mind. I doubt they knew that Derek was new to this specific environment. They certainly allowed him to relax and get right up in the nook and crannies of their secluded world. Deeper and deeper into the hive we went, looking for the queen. Finding her (a slightly longer bee) amidst 30,000 or so of her counterparts is no small feat and, ever elusive, we did not locate her highness that day. She was obviously around somewhere. Capped brood was abundant and the bees were healthy and vibrant in color and energy.
Slowly we replaced everything just as it had been with new cinnamon sticks to help keep the ants at bay. The hive was now a little cleaner and minus a few morsels of honey we took as a reward for our time. Derek's friend Vince had been standing nearby, calmly observing from a few feet away. I felt so blessed to have shared the beeutiful day with Derek and Vince. The spectacle that is a hive and the fascination the bees impart on me each and every time. They shared our respect of these important insects and were rewarded with a view into a world that not just anyone will ever get to see.
Click a photograph below to learn more about each scene. If you have any upcoming photography needs click HERE and please tell Derek we sent you!