Blue Banded Bee and Crane Fly up close

By: Michael Fox

Macro-photography allows us to see insects in a completely new way.

Blue Banded Bee - 20 Mar 13 - Alan Moore low res

Blue Banded Bee Amegilla cingulata – Alan Moore

Why a Blue Banded Bee?

Blue Banded Bee back - 20 Mar 13 - Alan Moore low res

Blue Banded Bee Amegilla cingulata – Alan Moore

Macro-photography shows the vivid blue bands that give  this special native bee its name.

Blue Banded Bee - 22 Mar 12 - Alan Moore

Blue Banded Bee showing sting – Alan Moore

Australia has over 1,500 native bees most of which are solitary bees not forming colony’s.

The Blue Banded Bee has particular value for agriculture and backyard vegetable growers. The bee can perform the buzz pollination required by tomatoes and eggplants, a service that Honey Bees cannot perform. Blue Banded Bees can disengage their wings then use the powerful wing muscles to vibrate the pollen from the tomato flower.

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An earlier photo shows that the Blue Banded Bee sting is not barbed like the sting of the better known, European Honey Bee Apis mellifera.

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Is that a giant mosquito?

Crane Fly - 20 Mar 13 - Alan Moore low res

Orange Crane Fly Tipula sp.

Macro-photography helps us see that these are Crane Flies not mosquitoes. Adult Crane Flies do not eat and only live a few days to reproduce. It was not until we saw the photos that they have segmented antennae virtually invisible to the eye.

The adults do not eat but they may be considered a nuisance when they invade our homes. However Crane Fly larva work hard to keep water in a creek clean and improve soil quality on land by consuming vegetable matter. The adult Crane Flies are also valuable food for birds and mammals.

Crane Fly rear - 20 Mar 13 - Alan Moore low res

Orange Crane Fly showing halteres

An interesting characteristic of Crane Flies is that they have only one pair of wings. The second pair of wings has evolved in distinctive halteres, small knobbed structures that help maintain stability in flight.

Mounting for photography b - 20 Mar 13 low res

Canon EOS 105mm Sigma ring flash

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Thanks to Allan Moore for these up close photos.

Alan used a Canon EOS 5D with a 105mm Sigma macro lens. Lighting was provided by a combination of a ring flash – soft light, and a simple LED torch to enhance the contrast with white light.

Mounting for photography a - 20 Mar 13

Blue Banded Bee mounted for photography

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The really clever trick was the way Alan mounted our specimens for photography. A simple timber block with a hole drilled to take a match. A dab of Araldite epoxy resin without the hardener allowed the insect to be picked up on the head of the match then carefully removed later.

Want to learn more about macro-photography? Join Alan at the Mt Gravatt Environment Group 2013 Photography Workshop to be held in September (date to be advised).

About Mt Gravatt Environment Group

Mt Gravatt Environment Group is restoring a unique piece of Australain native bushland only ten minutes from Brisbane CBD.
This entry was posted in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, Wildlife of Mt Gravatt Reserve and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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