Many thanks to National Wildlife Magazine Senior Editor Laura Tangley for interviewing me for NWF’s blog on why I’ve been spending the past couple of years chasing native North American bees around like a madman. It’s always great to have an opportunity to talk about the philosophy behind the photos. The article, called “Sharing a Passion for Beautiful Bees” can be found here.

This past spring I officially launched Beautiful Bees: a multi-year project focusing on North America’s native bees. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience so far and I’m only getting started. One species that I hope to draw special attention to is the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis). This is an insect that has declined 87% in the last 15 years due, at least in part, to an introduced Eurasian pathogen. This species is the perfect poster-child for many of the continent’s threatened species. Project partner, The Xerces Society, has…

This past September I paid a visit to Madison, Wisconsin where I was searching for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis); a species that is in serious decline due to an introduced pathogen. I was fortunate to not only find the RPBB but also many other species that share the same habitat. One insect that really made an impression on me was this male Fuzzy-legged Leafcutter Bee (Megachile melanophaea). Most bees are more interested in escaping once I’ve netted them for photography. However this impressive creature stood…

Mason Bee (Heriades sp), South Carolina, USA, ©Clay Bolt | beautifulbees.org

My family and I live in a cabin of sorts. It is situated in a lovely little patch of woods, which is home to a wonderful variety of wildlife. One of the first things you learn when moving to the country is that there isn’t much of a boundary between your walls and the boundaries of the creatures living just beyond them. Sometimes those boundaries are shared. When we first moved out into the country just over eight years ago now, I was a somewhat surprised (for some…

A close-up view of Holopasites calliopsidis. ©Clay Bolt | beautifulbees.org | meetyourneighbours.net

It is tempting, when starting a new project, to rush around in a desperate attempt to cover all of the bases. Believe me, this is something that I know all too well having initiated a few projects over the past few years. However, I promised myself before beginning this odyssey to get to know North America’s native bees that I would take the scenic route. I have no real deadlines and no definite conclusion that I’m driving toward other than my desire to help others realize just how important our…

I’m proud to share that I’m currently finalizing the artwork for a beautiful new indoor and outdoor exhibition featuring native North American bees and other pollinators at the Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, South Carolina. The exhibition, which is being by a partnership between Clemson University and RMSC, will feature six large panels at 48″ x 36″h and 15 additional images that will be displayed inside the center’s education building.

Most homeowners in North America are familiar with Carpenter Bees. In the eastern US, where I live, Xylocopa virginica, the Eastern Carpenter Bee is often mistaken for a Bumble Bee that has a naughty habit –from the human perspective– of drilling (or chewing, to be accurate) its way into wood. It goes without saying that this isn’t the most popular species of insect. However, despite their choice of inconvenient nesting sites, Carpenter Bees in the genus Xylocopa are in fact important pollinators.

One of the many species of Cuckoo Bees in Ruficornis Group found in North America. © Clay Bolt | www.claybolt.com

I have become fascinated with Cuckoo Bees (Nomadidae sp). Not only are Cuckoo Bees visually appealing, but they exhibit really interesting behavior. And, as a whole, they are also hard to identify down to the species level without intense scrutiny, even for the experts, which I kind of like (on slightly pathetic note) since I still have so much catching up to do regarding my own bee identification skills.

I have become fascinated with Cuckoo Bees (Nomadidae sp). Not only are Cuckoo Bees visually appealing, but they exhibit really interesting behavior. And, as a whole, they are also hard to identify down to the species level without intense scrutiny, even for the experts, which I kind of like (on slightly pathetic note) since I still have so much catching up to do regarding my own bee identification skills.

© Clay Bolt / www.claybolt.com

It occurred to me this past week that one of the reasons that I’ve been having such a wonderful time photographing bees is because the process is a lot like a treasure hunt. While I often may have an idea of what I’m netting, there are many more times when I have no idea of the species that I’ve just captured until I peer into the net. Thanks, in part, to the sheer number of species that exist (over 4,000 in North America), the opportunity to discover something…