The USGS Native Bee Inventory Program keeps track of the health and habitat of bees throughout the United States. This includes keeping archival reference catalogs to help researchers identify the various bee species in North America. This is quite the task, as there are thousands of bee species in the U.S. alone.
Each bee species varies so much but they are often not even distinguishable to the naked eye, which is what prompted the initiative to capture these stunning macro shots of bees. [via Flickr]
“We have to take a lot of pictures because many of these species vary only by very subtle characteristics,” Sam explains. “For some it might be the tiny pits on the surface of the top of the bee, and others it might be the pits within the pits. It’s important to take as many pictures as possible allowing our specialists to look at anything they might be interested in.”
“When we started looking at these pictures, I just wanted to gaze at these shots for long periods of time,” Sam says. “I had seen these insects for many years, but the level of detail was incredible. The fact that everything was focused, the beauty and the arrangement of the insects themselves — the ratios of the eyes, the golden means, the french curves of the body, and the colors that would slide very naturally from one shade to another were just beautiful! It was the kind of thing that we could not achieve at the highest level of art.”