Bee Behavior

Olson's Honey

Olson’s Honey Field Supervisor Matthew Shakespear inspects a frame from a bee hive, in Moses Lake, Wash., on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (Young Kwak/The Pacific Northwest Inlander)

I learned quite a bit about bee behavior working on an Inlander story this week. I knew that worker bees have one job, which is not to sting you. But, I wasn’t sure how they would behave with a camera so close to them. For the most part I was ignored. But, a few bees were curious and would hover around the mask of the bee suit I was wearing. None of the bees appeared aggressive. They would hover for a few moments and then leave.

I also found out that bees are clean. They don’t like to be covered in dirt and will clean up any mess around their hives. The photograph below shows bees drinking spilled honey, their way of cleaning up that mess.

Mike Durst

Bees drink spilled honey at the Mark T. Durst and Sons, in Spokane County, Wash., on Monday, July 22, 2013. (Young Kwak/The Pacific Northwest Inlander)

For the most part, I felt calm working on this story, which may seem unusual with millions of bees around, probably because of the constant background buzz. I needed that calm as I attempted many macro photos of the bees. Being within a couple of inches of the bees, any movement by the bee or even the smallest move by me would result in an out of focus image. I was lucky enough to have some photos in proper focus. I was also lucky enough to be so close up that I could see how they twitched their antennae or cleaned dust off themselves.

Each bee seemed to have purpose. As I found out, many bees will fly specific patterns between their hive, the flowers they pollinate and water sources. I can only imagine what a bee highway would look like. For a few moments, I held my camera down, watched the bees fly around me, listened to the buzz and appreciated the constant activity of the scene.


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