[Warning: Bees] [Is Apiphobia a thing? I’m going to assume it is]

This is via Atlas Obscura, which is a must-read if you’re a nexus of weirdness. [atl]

Droege is a wildlife biologist at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, where he is developing a program to inventory and monitor North America’s native anthophiles. Some of his duties involve fieldwork, which he enjoys so much that he describes a trip to analyze the bee fauna in South Africa’s Kruger National Park as a “vacation.” “I can’t think of anything that feeds my spirit more,” he says, “than to be doing uninterrupted natural history in a warm, sunny, bee-filled part of the world while others endure snow up north.” Fair enough. Even if you never trek along with him, Droege will do his darnedest to convince you that bees pausing above the dry landscape’s flowers are just as worth swooning over as the pride of lions stalking past.

My first apartment was a few miles from there and I used to sometimes go up late at night on my motorcycle and park, and think deep thoughts while I fed the mosquitoes. It’s a lovely haven of peace in the middle of highways and office parks.

Droege photographs bees. He’s also, apparently, a bee-marketing genius and instinctive social media manipulator. His bee photos are suddenly popular and attracting a following. He has a huge archive online. [flickr] Have a look!

Meanwhile: some bees

(to the theme of ‘circling overland’ by Front 242)


kid pictures!


Purple Rain!


o hai


here’s lookin’ at you. and lookin’ at him. and lookin’ over there. and lookin’ behind me.

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If you’re building a significant online archive of ${whatever} please be careful if you decide to host it in the cloud, in a way you do not control. Services like flickr can decide to change their terms whenever they want, and they can suddenly start causing your images to be unavailable unless you pay for premium service, or whatever. Given that basic hosting on something like lunarpages is about $10/month, it’s pretty easy to maintain your own control of your information assets (in the case of something like lunarpages, you have the ability to pull down a complete archive of your stuff and move to somewhere else in an afternoon) But the worst part about using a service like flickr is that if you post links to your images there, the URLs become pinned in whatever place you’re posting, since they often post links not the actual data. That means if you don’t pay the service or they change their TOS, your images all over the internet start appearing as blanks or – worse – dumb logos saying “this user did not pay for our premium service!” It’s particularly bad with long-running forums; you get years into the forum’s lifetime and suddenly one day half the images are scrambled. There’s one knife-maker’s forum I know where they encouraged people to use, and then photobucket started putting up premium block images. So the forum owners are looking at a huge amount of work which they can’t do anyway because it’s user-provided content, and their forum looks like scrambled crap. If you’re running a forum, you’ve got to decide if you’re going to host images or not, and how, or you risk getting garbaged by some cloud service. If you’re posting images, likewise.

These photos are great. Good specular highlights from a hard light, even fill lighting, dramatic background, and some off-angle kicker lights to separate the object from the background. His compositions are also about as good as it’s possible to get in the circumstances. I assume he has a black box with some lights inside, and a geared table for his camera and subject. One of the keys to getting shots like these is that you can perfectly control the lighting – so you can do things like use a piece of black velvet as a stage and light it so that it comes out perfect black all the time. These are techniques that product photographers all master right away; and, apparently, so do a few bee photographers.

I bet he’s using one of the EXF lenses.


  1. Dunc says

    Those are fantastic photos!

    A tailor’s forum I use was hit pretty badly by the Photobucket ToS change* – and in that case, a lot of the affected material was scanned from out-of-print and hard-to-find books, so a significant historical archive was almost lost. (I say “almost” because it is still archived by the Wayback Machine and still available on PB itself, and a couple of people are digging through the affected material to re-archive it somewhere else. It’s a lot of work though.)

    Thing is, $10 a month may be nothing to you, but for a lot of people, it’s more than they want to pay to host a handful of images for forum posts. Plus, setting it up requires forethought… I already had a Flickr account, so I just used that when I wanted to host some stuff, and if I wanted to move it now, I’d need to track it all down and edit the posts. It’s not that I didn’t think about it, it’s just how the time / effort / cost trade-off worked out at the time.

    Then, of course, there’s the one where they change the URL structure without maintaining backward compatibility…

    * Interestingly, Photobucket seem to have backed off and re-instated 3rd party sharing, although they are slapping whopping great “proudly hosted on photobucket” watermarks on everything. Presumably nobody took them up on their $400-a-year premium offering… If they’d pitched it at a sensible price, they might have done better.

  2. voyager says

    However they were made, those photos are gorgeous.
    I have managed to mostly avoid the cloud because every leak that happened made me more nervous. I guess iit isn’t paranoia if your fears are real.

  3. kestrel says

    Amazing photos. Beautiful bees.

    I never used Photobucket but I’ve seen the devastation in forums where it was once used. I used to just hotlink off my website. Now I’ve got stacks of CDs with photos and I wish I had a better way than that to store them. I’ve started using memory sticks, but who knows at this point if these things are archival? I’ve heard that CDs are not.

    @Dunc: that’s good news on Photobucket and I agree, when I heard what they were charging, I just thought, “Wow, everyone else must be way better off financially than I am!” No way was I paying that.

  4. says

    Hard drive to hard drive backup (replace the drives every few years) is the way to go. Memory sticks fade. DVDs are not archival.

    On the other hand, don’t need to worry about our data outlasting our civilization. There won’t be any alien archeologists.

  5. Jazzlet says

    That purple bee is just the bee’s knees. (sorry-not-sorry)

    I’m not apiphobic of pictures of bees, but am somewhat of the real thing. Sadly both of us have allergic reactions to bee stings, not anaphalaxis level, just arm-swollen -to-ludicrous-size reactions with the mess that makes of your skin. We’ve both gone from loving to look at bees, to needing to get them out of the house NOW, and sadly having to have someone in to destroy two nests in different years. Why the second lot of bees decided to nest in the air brick by the steps down into the garden I don’t know, but it wasn’t a wise decision, especially not after one of them stung Mr Jazz.

    Marcus the bread slasher works perfectly :-D

  6. says

    the bread slasher works perfectly :-D


    Sadly both of us have allergic reactions to bee stings, not anaphalaxis level, just arm-swollen -to-ludicrous-size reactions with the mess that makes of your skin.

    Yeah, “avoiding like heck” is not the same as “phobia” :)

    My dog ate a bee once and his whole muzzle swelled up like a football. I kept an eye on him to make sure he could breathe OK but otherwise – he avoided bees a lot after that.

  7. Dunc says

    On the other hand, don’t need to worry about our data outlasting our civilization.

    I’m more worried that our data isn’t going to outlast these shoes.

  8. says

    I’m more worried that our data isn’t going to outlast these shoes.

    I have shoes that will probably outlast our civilization. It won’t be hard.

  9. Owlmirror says

    I followed the flickr link, and noticed that there’s a footer to every image that has links to methods and equipment info.


    Basic USGSBIML set up:

    USGSBIML Photoshopping Technique: Note that we now have added using the burn tool at 50% opacity set to shadows to clean up the halos that bleed into the black background from “hot” color sections of the picture.

    PDF of Basic USGSBIML Photography Set Up:

    In case anyone’s interested.

    There’s more, but I don’t want to overload the links. Just follow an image and scroll down.

  10. says

    I followed the flickr link, and noticed that there’s a footer to every image that has links to methods and equipment info.

    Oh, thanks for that! Very cool!
    (Yup they’re using an MPE lens!)