Saturday, May 7, 2011

Timing is everything when you're seeing green

Female virescent green metallic bee (2011)

I finished up a round of Master Gardener volunteer gardening today, with a quick photography tour of the marvelous work my fellow gardeners do in Champaign, Illinois. When shooting flowers, I use a Nikon D90 with a 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens. While I had my lens peering deep into a tulip, I noticed a virescent green metallic bee in the flower. I got super excited. I snapped a lot of shots, to make sure I caught at least a glimpse of this bee before it flew off never to be seen again. This is only the second time I've seen this type of bee.

The last time I saw one of these bees was in 2001. I had never seen one before. I was lucky enough to catch a photo of it last time with a Nikon CoolPix 950. The bee was diligently working its way around a Purple coneflower (Echinacea) that was wide open. I captured the bee, the flower, the moment perfectly. The problem? I couldn't identify the bee. I knew it was anatomically a bee, but couldn't find a solid reference online. I used the Entomology resources available at the University of Illinois. It took a lot of footwork, but I managed to hunt it down.

Female virescent green metallic bee

After the photo shoot today, I came home to be greeted with the latest issue of Horticulture Magazine. I randomly flipped through the magazine and was amazed at the timing. There it was, a virescent green metallic bee! It was highlighted in the InsectID section of the magazine by Bill Johnson. The article was written perfectly for identification. Within an hour of taking the photo, I was able to confirm the genus of today's find, just by checking my mail.

I've been reading articles in Horticulture Magazine for years. I love that when I'm short on time I can still flip through the magazine and find an article that is interesting, enlightening, and accurate. Having Bill Johnson's succinct article and his extreme skill in photography to reference is a great addition to the magazine.

Male virescent green metallic bee (2001)

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