Dilemma. Back in February, I asked any of you who are planting Lemon Queen sunflowers to take pictures of your bee visitors so I could display them in a photo gallery. Apparently, I didn’t think this through properly—my Lemon Queens are now approaching ten feet tall, while I (camera in hand) am still down here on planet Earth.
I can see why the bees love Lemon Queens: privacy. The paparazzi are held at bay by the towering stalks. The bees can look down, see us circling, and snicker. Worse, when the wind blows, instead of quivering for a few brief moments, these behemoths sway, carving enormous arcs through the firmament, making it really difficult (like impossible) to follow with a camera.
The one place where I might consider putting a ladder is on the north side of my garden, but of course sunflowers have this irritating habit of facing south. The south side is full of soft soil and mole holes, and I’m all too familiar with that sinking (literally) feeling when one leg of said ladder disappears into Wonderland.
I have some heavy-duty lenses but they are of the macro variety, not telephoto. Usually, I have to stick the lens right in the bee’s eyelashes to get any decent shots, so these photo sessions are not going well. I’ve tried shooting the Lemon Queens from the ground and all I get are big sunbursty-looking flowers with itsy-bitsy bees blending darkly against the brown center. I’ve seen a lot of bad “bee on sunflower” shots and now I know why.
So now what? For starters, I’m not going to assume that because my shots are bad, yours are too. With different cameras, firmer soil, and a better attitude, you might get great portraits, images the bees will want to print on canvas and post on Facebook.
So send what you have, and if I get enough I’ll make a page for them all. But here’s one thing I’m changing: it can be any type of sunflower, not just Lemon Queens. Tell me the variety if you know it, and I will include it with the photo. You can e-mail the photos to me or send a DropBox link. Be sure to say where you are and who took the photo—or, if you want to be cagey, just tell what to write in the caption. Thanks.