It's Bee Fly Day!


Lubbyman

Link Posted 04/04/2021 - 21:32
Early April, a couple of warm days, so it's the annual bee fly fest. Mainly dotted bee flies at the moment. According to an English Nature report, the dotted bee fly "does best on open unimproved or semi-improved grassland... bare or very sparsely vegetated ground, exposed dust patches...", which is a fair description of the current state of my lawns.

The little things are always a challenge so a good way to get the eye in for the start of the flying insect season. They don't stay still for very long, suddenly darting off at great speed in an unpredictable direction. Even when they appear stationary, sharp pictures are still elusive because they are usually vibrating as a result of flapping their wings furiously.

Anyway, here are a few of the best from today's stalking. K3 + DA*300mm + 1.4 TC + a lot of luck.

Thoughts, comments welcome as usual.

1. In spite of what it looks like, this one is actually flying backwards having just fed from the flower. From which you can deduce that I was late pressing the shutter button...



2.



3.



Steve

Chrism8

Link Posted 05/04/2021 - 08:47
#3 for me, have you tried balancing HSS flash with the available light and shooting the bees ? I tried it last year with reasonable success
Chris

www.chrismillsphotography.co.uk

" A Hangover is something that occupies the Head you neglected to use the night before".

-------------------------------------------------------------
K1 - Sigma 85mm F1.4, Pentax 150 -450 F4.5 / 5.6, Pentax FA 24 - 70 F2.8

Sigma 100-300 F4, Samyang 14mm F2.8, Pentax 70-200 F2.8

K3iii + K3ii + K5iis converted to IR, Sigma 17 - 70 F2.8, Pentax 55 - 300 F4.5 / F5.6 PLM

Lubbyman

Link Posted 05/04/2021 - 09:40
Chrism8 wrote:
have you tried balancing HSS flash with the available light and shooting the bees ?

Not with bee flies, sometimes with bees. Might give it a try if they bee flies appear again after the cold spell that's just started. Thanks for the suggestion.

Steve

Chrism8

Link Posted 05/04/2021 - 09:47
Morning Steve

Here's one of my more successful attempts, aim to try again later this year when the bush flowers mid to late May - 1/1600 sec - F9 - 640 ISO



Chris

www.chrismillsphotography.co.uk

" A Hangover is something that occupies the Head you neglected to use the night before".

-------------------------------------------------------------
K1 - Sigma 85mm F1.4, Pentax 150 -450 F4.5 / 5.6, Pentax FA 24 - 70 F2.8

Sigma 100-300 F4, Samyang 14mm F2.8, Pentax 70-200 F2.8

K3iii + K3ii + K5iis converted to IR, Sigma 17 - 70 F2.8, Pentax 55 - 300 F4.5 / F5.6 PLM

Lubbyman

Link Posted 05/04/2021 - 20:46
Nice shot of the bee. I find bee flies trickier than bees. A bee is on a mission and fairly predictable (even if uncooperative...), a bee fly is much more likely to do something seemingly random and flies much faster than the average bee.

My memory was failing me when I said that I sometimes use HSS with bees. It's normal sync with the Pentax AF160FC ring flash, which unfortunately doesn't support HSS. I'm still going to try it with bee flies if they return after the cold spell.

Steve

Chrism8

Link Posted 06/04/2021 - 14:10
Thanks Steve, I've not come across a bee fly.

In terms of HSS, I've used 2 cactus triggers, ( one set to transmit and one to receive ) one on top of the other with some insulating tape between them, the ring flash is triggered by the top cactus trigger with the ring flash trigger mounted on top of that, it looks and feels quite unwieldly but it works ok.

It allows shutter speeds well above the normal sync speed with on camera and gives the ability to balance flash with natural light and use the flash to freeze the flying insect.
Chris

www.chrismillsphotography.co.uk

" A Hangover is something that occupies the Head you neglected to use the night before".

-------------------------------------------------------------
K1 - Sigma 85mm F1.4, Pentax 150 -450 F4.5 / 5.6, Pentax FA 24 - 70 F2.8

Sigma 100-300 F4, Samyang 14mm F2.8, Pentax 70-200 F2.8

K3iii + K3ii + K5iis converted to IR, Sigma 17 - 70 F2.8, Pentax 55 - 300 F4.5 / F5.6 PLM

Lubbyman

Link Posted 06/04/2021 - 15:59
That pile of triggers deserves a picture - my imagination is boggling!

Bee flies are flies that mimic bees. Their larvae are parasitic on the larvae of specific species of solitary bees and wasps. They lay eggs in the hole used by a bee, when their larvae hatch they consume the bee larvae. Then they metamorphose into the fluffy flying thing, mate and the cycle starts again. Dotted bee flies (which is the species I usually see, dots on wings are clear in the 2nd picture) do a lot of hovering low above the lawn, probably looking for bee holes in which to drop their eggs. They usually hover for just long enough to get a camera pointing in their direction but not to focus. Fortunately, they sometimes keep returning to about the same spot so a bit of patience can be rewarded by a hovering shot.

An English Nature survey about 20 years ago found that the dotted bee fly is "locally frequent with many strong colonies" in South Gloucestershire although in North Gloucestershire it was "rare with colonies small". Keep your eyes open and looking low, you might see them until early May.

Steve

Chrism8

Link Posted 06/04/2021 - 16:41
We live in the right county so that's a good starting point, will do some digging on poss locations.

Below are 2 images of the set up, 645z + 120mm F4 macro + Ext Tube then 2 x stacked Cactus triggers with the Sigma ring flash trigger on top and lens mounted, all this and hand held for the shooting, by inserting a piece of electrical tape in the hotshot of the lower trigger, the two communicate as though they were separate items not linked together therefore giving the HSS off camera capability.






Chris

www.chrismillsphotography.co.uk

" A Hangover is something that occupies the Head you neglected to use the night before".

-------------------------------------------------------------
K1 - Sigma 85mm F1.4, Pentax 150 -450 F4.5 / 5.6, Pentax FA 24 - 70 F2.8

Sigma 100-300 F4, Samyang 14mm F2.8, Pentax 70-200 F2.8

K3iii + K3ii + K5iis converted to IR, Sigma 17 - 70 F2.8, Pentax 55 - 300 F4.5 / F5.6 PLM

Lubbyman

Link Posted 06/04/2021 - 21:28
By 'eck! That looks unwieldy on a 645z, on a K3 it would look - let's just say slightly precarious .

Steve

Lubbyman

Link Posted 10/04/2021 - 22:04
Well, it isn't just dotted bee flies now.

A dark-edged bee fly (bombylius major) dropped in yesterday. It flew onto a paving slab just outside the greenhouse where I was about to start doing things. Usually, they will fly off at the slightest hint of a shadow. Uncharacteristically, however, this one hardly moved for half an hour or more, not even when I stepped over it (again and again...). Presumably it needed to soak up a lot of warmth from the slab and sun before it could do any more flying. The chance of some pictures of a stationary bee fly was too good to miss, so here are a couple. The wings show that it's a dark edged rather than dotted bee fly - and the tail end of the body isn't black.

1.



2.



Steve
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