Pretty Flowers, but Bees Rarely Love’Em — Lilac

Lilac is still blooming, although it is almost done here in East Lansing and Okemos. Lilac is in the family Oleaceae, the most common species planted are Syringa vulgaris.

[side note: Black locusts are now blooming here!]

Lilac looks very pretty to us, and smells nice. But bees rarely visit them. The first time I saw a bee visiting lilac, I was in the Descanso garden in CA. It was March 11, 2007. I already forgot what I was there for (age is taking its toll?:).

I was thinking, wow all these lilacs smelling so good. I wish there was one bee here so that I can take a nice photo! My wish then came true….I chased this single bee around and finally got a good shot of her (3).

1. She is busy visiting lilac flowers.

2. Hovering in the air, a bit too tall for me to get a good angle. She is getting pollen obviously.

3. It took me more than 10 shots to get this nice one. I remember I used an old ring flash during that time. The ring flash was bought before I got my D70, so it does not has TTL (through the lens) metering (some flashes fire a preflash, then measure the light level, calculate and fire again the right output).

So I thought this bee was an “odd ball” that liked lilac since I have not seen a second bee!

Then in China I was telling people that I have seen a single bee foraging on lilac and wondered if I would see bees there. Because there were many trees (not bushes, so even taller) blooming and at the Beijing Honey Bee Institute (Institute of Apicultural Research) and they also have about 40 colonies nearby.

4. This lilac tree is about the same height of their nice house — these are offices there! I need to inquire the lilac’s variety next time.

5. The flowers seems to be different from the California one.

6. One shot in “high key”, very artistic, huh?

I have to wait for bees to come down to my eye level, so I never got really as good as a shot here. So, D70 or D700 does not really matter, it is mostly, time, location and luck to get good honey bee photos.

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