It begins with the screaming of the bee. We looked down into a flower patch, and there was an innocent honeybee, snared in a spiderweb, twirling maniacally and buzzing frantically as it struggled to get free. Mary told me to free it…I said “No,” callously.

I followed the lines of the web, a rather tattered orb at this point, and found what I was looking for — the claws of the predator, peeking out from under a leaf.

I folded the leaf over, and there she was, waiting patiently. I asked Mary to hold the leaf while I took a few photos.

Notice the husk of a dead bee wrapped in silk at the bottom of the picture. There were others scattered around, and clearly she’d grown to this massive size on the blood of honeybees.

By the way, not seen in the photo, off to the right, Mary is holding the leaf maybe a centimeter away from the beasts jaws. She was fearless.

A little further along, we found a tiny version of the spider above. I’m holding it here between thumb and forefinger on a bit of leaf.

This one was tricky to photograph — it was a bit skittish. A moment after this was taken, it ran to the edge of the leaf and jumped off. I grabbed its dragline as it launched into the air, so I was holding it by a thread of silk, still trying to get its picture, which was kind of impossible. It kept lowering itself, so I told Mary to catch it, and she held out her hands as a platform for me to lower it onto.

“Will it bite me?” she asked.

“… … … probably not,” I said.

She didn’t flinch, didn’t tremble a bit, just held her hands steady as the spider landed. Then, unfortunately, it just scampered away and leapt into some brush.

I really should have another camera person on these trips to record Mary’s acts of heroism.

Then we found a crab spider.

And another Argiope.

Then we went home. Is it lunchtime yet?


  1. PaulBC says

    I am now having flashbacks to ending of The Fly (original 1958). “Help me! Help me!”

    That scene freaked me out as a kid. Thanks for the nightmares, man.

  2. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin isn’t too sure what vin goes with bee tartare, but suspects either a honeyed Grog or a Greek Retsina might be good choices. Those in turn, present something of a problem with the cheeses to follow. Feta is the traditional accompaniment to Retsina, but there are a number of other cheeses, such as Mytilini Ladotyri, which also work — but that might overpower the taste of bee. Those should also work with grog, as do some “Swiss” cheeses, but she suspects they would be overpowered by the bee.

  3. marcoli says

    You have an awesome partner there! It is fun to play ‘spot the hiding orb weaver’. Look at about 2:00 to the right, then about 10:00 to the left. See a curled up leaf? Does it look… sincere? That is where she will be!

  4. Kevin Karplus says

    Your spider (and insect) photographs seem to be improving—compare these with some of the ones you took when you first got into spiders. What are the main differences in what you are doing to get better photos?

  5. says

    What I’m doing to improve my macrophotography skills:

    • a) Practice.
    • b) Shoot 100 photos for every one you keep.

    Still getting by with the same basic cheap gear, a flash and extension tubes. Someday I’ll get a good macro lens, though.