Belly Time: Yoga for Bee Nerds

By Lori Weidenhammer

This article was originally published in the Quarterly Newsletter for the Native Bee Society of British Columbia (Volume 1, Issue 2) in July 2020.

So you want to be a bee photographer? Don’t worry about emptying your bank account on expensive cameras and lenses. What you really need to buy if you’re going to take photos of bees is a regular supply of Epsom salts. You’re going to be spending time on your belly in the cold, wet mud. You’ll be twisting your body into weird shapes and holding awkward poses for a long time. That means you’ll need to spend some quality time in a hot bath, the water milky with magnesium rich, muscle-relaxing mineral salts.

Going on a bee safari means getting dressed in some comfortable, breathable clothes with long trousers made of sturdy material. I’m inevitably going to be kneeling in prickles, pebbles, and muck. The thorns of the black cap raspberry are a nemesis to my bare skin. Yesterday I grabbed onto a flowering branch to get photos of a tiny wasp with prodigiously long antennae. Did I push a thorn right into the most sensitive part of my thumb? You bet I did. But I believe it’s worth suffering to get the good shot, even for insects that aren’t bees!

I really should put reinforced knee patches on all my field trousers because I’ve kneeled on trailing blackberry canes, rough stones and cacti. When searching for the bee that pollinates pale evening primrose (Oenothera pallida ssp. pallida) on the side of the road in the south Okanagan I kneeled on a prickly pear plant. Did it hurt? Yes! Hurt like hell. Did I see the rare bee? Nope. But at least I got some good shots of the flowers, even if I had a very sore knee for a couple of days.