Cuckoo Bee at Lamb's Ears


Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina) always stops visitors to our garden in their tracks. I don’t know why, but it isn’t very common - and I think they like the colour and softness of the leaves. Anyway, even less common is this blue cuckoo bee, Thyreus decorus. A couple were feeding yesterday, and they were tricky to photo, as they are only 1-1.5 cm and zip from flower to flower. It’s called a cuckoo bee because it’s a kleptoparasite, behaving much like cuckoo birds, laying eggs that hatch and replace hard-working blue-banded bee larvae.

Specific Feedback Requested

All comments welcome.

Technical Details

D500 + 105mm macro 1/2000 f9 ISO 400 Tripod and fill flash.

In PS, Topaz Denoise - then selected BG and applied Highlights. Inverted selection, then Curves for bee and plant.

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Fantastic capture, Mike. I’ve never seen a Cuckoo bee for sure. Awesome detail in the bee. The lamb’s ear makes a nice soft backdrop. Thanks so much for posting the info on the bee too.

I have never seen or heard of the bee or the flower, Mike, so both are a real treat. I do like how the “ears” are above and below the bee. I can see why folks stop by to see the flower too. Wonderful details in both the flower and the bee.

Wow. Excellent capture, Mike. Both the flower and the bee are unique and combined they make a terrific comp. Well done.

Super sweet! I’ve seen cuckoo wasps, but not the bees, although I’ve heard of them. This shot has so much detail and color. I like the contrasts in texture and color both. A scroll crop eliminating the top flowers helps keep my eyes from wandering up there and off that little blue beauty. Just a thought. And if you have a smidge more room at the bottom, that might be nice.

Yes, @Kris_Smith, I prefer the crop along the top which you suggest, as this also helps the “floppy ears” effect. But the bottom I can’t do (too tricky to add canvas for me!) - though I do agree with you there too. (See the Rework above).

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Hi Mike,

This is a very colorful bee and the flower plus bee make a solid comp. I have no opinion on both images, the original looks fine as presented…Jim

Really like the colors and textures and the pastel background. Can see why it’s called a lamb’s ear.

Mike, the variety of colors and textures are outstanding with the bee clearly the subject. The slightly tighter crop is a subtle improvement, but the original looks fine.

Mike: Wonderful combination of subjects. I do prefer the crop. Terrific capture of the moment. >=))>