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Carpenter Bee

How to Photograph Bees?

Photographing Bees – How to?

Irrelevant of the lens choice, photographing bees is very challenging. They are extremely fast and do not stay at one place for long. And if you are like me, attempting to freeze them in a tele lens like 600 mm, then welcome to the struggle offered by its size. Framing and focusing can be a daunting task many a times. But if done in a thoughtful manner, can get rewarding in no time. This is one shot that got attention from BBCWildLife and Animal Planet.

Carpenter Bee
Carpenter Bee

Observe and Pre-Focus

The first thing that will account for a successful photo opportunity would be to observe the pattern which the bee is following. Usually, they will come and go at the same flower multiple times.  Pre-focus at the flower to stay ready, instead of trying to follow the bee from long before, this will only make you lose the opportunity to Photograph. In most of the cases, while photographing a subject like this, one would be at the closest distance possible, whether using a Macro lens or a tele lens in my case. Best would be to set the focus limit to the closest range, instead of keeping it open till infinity. This will help you avoid focus hunt and will increase your chances of locking the focus with the subject quickly.

How to Photograph Bees?
How to Photograph Bees?

Shutter Speed

Since they are fast, a fast shutter speed of anything about 1\1000 of a second or higher is recommended, when shooting with a tele lens like Sony 200-600 mm. This will not only avoid any camera shake, but also freeze the motion in the subject. But it is important to note that, you may not want to freeze the motion of their wings. A frozen image of a bee in air, will not look natural. So, a little sense of motion is good to have in the wings.

But if you are shooting with a dedicated Macro lens, I am sure, you would be using a flash to freeze the motion. By thumb rule, a shutter speed of 200 mm would be ideal, like any other macro shot. Remember, lower the flash power, higher the power to freeze the motion. Agree? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


Its a no brainer to use a small aperture to have the maximum in focus. So an aperture of anywhere from f/8 to f/22 with a flash is the ideal choice. But when shooting with a tele lens, you can get away with even a wide aperture of f/4. My photographs were shot at f/6.3


Again, when shooting with a Macro lens, one would ideally be using a flash, so an ISO of 100 would be good enough. Since, I was shooting on a tele lens in natural light with a shutter speed of 1\1000 of a second, so was forced to shoot at an ISO of 800.

Carpenter Bee - How to Photograph?
Carpenter Bee

Drive mode

Another important point to remember is to use the High+ / Burst mode. This will drastically increase the chances of getting a winning shot.


Carpenter bees are species in the genus Xylocopa of the subfamily Xylocopinae. The genus includes some 500 bees in 31 subgenera. The common name “carpenter bee” derives from their nesting behavior; nearly all species burrow into hard plant material such as dead wood or bamboo. Due to this, their nests are often targeted by Woodpeckers.

Do check my other blog from “How I?” series.

Gears used in the Trip

Sony A7M3

Sony Fe 200-600Mm F/5.6-6.3 G OSS Telephoto Zoom Lens (White)

Canon EOS 80D

Sigma Sports 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras (Black)

Go-Pro Hero Black 7

Iphone 11 Pro and Iphone 13 for wide shots

Here is another interesting series for Nature buffs, “Stories from Wild“.

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Belong to the world of Aviation. A Birder by Heart! Passionate about Wildlife, Photography and Travel.

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