Bees have received an enormous amount of publicity lately due to the massive decline in their numbers across the globe. While most tend to focus on their vital role as pollinators for both agricultural crops and native plants, Sam Droege from the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab celebrates their incredible beauty through these magnificent photographs.
Droege has taken hundreds of photographs of insects from around the world. His macro portraits of bees from US National Parks allows for an up-close-and-personal view of what most often appears as a blur buzzing from flower to flower. Each bee is an incredible product of its environment, built to gather nectar and distribute pollen across an entire ecosystem. Each variation in color, size, and shape challenges the conventional notion image of the cartoonish striped honeybee. Displaying the diversity of these winged wonders is not only helpful for entomologists, but lets viewers reflect on the living treasures that could potentially disappear due to habitat destruction, pesticide use, and disease.
“When we started looking at these pictures, I just wanted to gaze at these shots for long periods of time,” Droege says. “I had seen these insects for many years, but the level of detail was incredible. The fact that everything was focused, the beauty and the arrangement of the insects themselves — the ratios of the eyes, the golden means, the french curves of the body, and the colors that would slide very naturally from one shade to another were just beautiful! It was the kind of thing that we could not achieve at the highest level of art.”
Using nature as an inspiration for art is nothing new, but the advance of technology has made it possible for humans to view their environments in a level of detail novel throughout the course of history. Capturing and scrutinizing the products of evolution like a fine oil painting assigns a value to every individual bee, taking it out of the context like a single spring from a watch. Somehow, understanding a piece of the puzzle helps to comprehend the entire system and hopefully spark a desire towards stewardship.