In nature, even death can be beautiful. Anyone who spends a lot of time looking for bees will also often find predatory species who wait patiently for prey to appear. In this case, a very tiny ambush bug (Phymata sp) has captured an equally tiny bee, Chelostoma philadelphi, that was visiting a mock orange blossom (Philadelphus sp). At times I find it difficult to stay on task when photographing a particular scene / subject because with nature, one good thing leads to another. It is all so fascinating!…

A trip into the world of bees offers a glimpse into the extraordinary. Each day, from the flowers that you pass on your way into the office, to the fields, forests and bare patches of earth, life and death struggles for survival are taking place, the outcomes of which will ultimately affect our own lives. Take notice and take care of bees. Spray less. Mow less. Provide a little shelter. That would be a great start. Pictured: Metallic Green Bee (Augochlorella sp) on Bee Balm (Monarda didyma).

A Small Carpenter Bee (Ceratina sp), South Carolina © Clay Bolt / www.claybolt.com

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.

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.

Andrena cornelli, © Clay Bolt / www.claybolt.com

Andrena cornelli is a beautiful, finely structured mining bee that is associated with Rhododendrons in eastern North America. This is also one of the first species that I photographed last summer when I was first kicking around the idea of this project. If you’re just becoming interested in bees, certain clues, such as food sources, flight times (either season or time of day) and other characteristics can really be useful when trying to get a general idea of a species’ identity. In the case of this species, one…

Andrena cornelli is a beautiful, finely structured mining bee that is associated with Rhododendrons in eastern North America. This is also one of the first species that I photographed in the summer of 2013 in Highlands, NC when I was first kicking around the idea of this project.  I photographed this male A. cornelli just this past week (April, 2014) in Pickens, South Carolina as it visited a Pinxter Azalea.

Long-horned Bee (Eucera sp), Chattanooga, TN, Spring 2014 © Clay Bolt | www.claybolt.com

My multi-year project celebrating North America’s native bees is officially underway! I spent the last few days photographing species found in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee including this incredibly cute Long-horned Bee (Eucera species…possibly E. atriventris or E. dubitata). Species in this genus are important pollinators of sunflowers, alfalfa and other crops. Species in this genus are solitary, ground-nesting bees.