Bees on Dahlia: Nikon and iPhone Comparisons

October 6, 2017

We have had unusually warm weather in Vermont for early October, providing a welcomed extension to what was a mostly cool summer. A few mornings ago, however, the nighttime temperatures dropped into the 30’s (single digits Celsius). On an early morning walk around my gardens, I spotted dew-bespeckled bees seemingly painted on my dahlias. It was a magical moment. I ran back to the house and grabbed my Nikon SLR and tripod. I shot this photo:

I thought to myself, “Is this the way some bees die at the end of the summer? Their metabolisms gradually slow as the temperature drops on a waning day and through the night. While they are drinking the sweet nectar of a beautiful flower, they eventually drift into a sleep brought on by what we humans call hypothermia.”

I have read that after the initial pain from the cold, death by hypothermia is relatively peaceful. The bees in this dewy, motionless state perched upon my dahlias seemed impervious to the chill if it weren’t for their inability to move. I don’t think they would have moved had I petted them.

I am happy to report that when the warm sun filled my meadow the bees were dancing happily from flower to flower.


I visited that same garden this morning. It’s not nearly as cold today, but it is damp and grey. I discovered bees (the same ones?) perched atop the same dahlias “frozen”, but not covered in dew, awaiting the warm sun to invigorate their exoskeletons. This time, iPhone in my pocket, I decided to snap some pictures and compare them with those I took with my Nikon a few days earlier. Here is one I took of a singular bee on a singular petal:

I am more than occasionally surprised at the quality of the photos I get from my iPhone 6. Their quality falls short of those from my Nikon but given the convenience, portability, and surprising resolution and color, I always keep my iPhone handy.

Now, as to the surprises I find in nature, I never cease to be amazed!

Here on my mountain in southern Vermont, I am frequently delighted by the soaring hawk above my meadow, flocks of turkey guiding their young through the edges of my woods, owls that call to each other in the night, the black bear that plods along my brook, the snake that warms itself on the stone wall, chipmunks that chatter noisily, robins that pluck insects from my gardens and fields, and goldfinch that feed on my sunflowers.

The wonders of this magical natural world no doubt alight in front of each of us every day – most likely even if you are an urban dweller. Be attentive, be mindful. The natural world has much to teach us if we choose to observe and listen.



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

6 thoughts on “Bees on Dahlia: Nikon and iPhone Comparisons

  1. Beautiful photos – Tebano – can not believe it is 35 years since we began our adventures in Kiribati! Kirara and I were on Abemama in Feb/Mar this year – lots of changes. Tia boo, John & Kirara

    • John: Life is like a jet plane, it moves too fast, so Bob Dylan says. I was back on Abemama in 2002. They had a severe prolonged drought at that time. I have been wondering what has changed there. Curt and Cindy visited a few weeks ago. I had not seen them since our PCV days. Pls know you and Kirara are welcome to visit us in Vermont any time! Hope all is well!

      • Stephen – Mauri – it seems like life is flying by – we were in Kiribati for three months this last spring – since I have retired we try to go every other year. The biggest change I have seen is the western materialism pursuit of I-Kiribati – cars everywhere – old washing machines and freezers piled in every houses yard on Tarawa. Abemama’s population is vary sparse – Tebanga is ghost town like – no Maneaba – people have all moved to Tarawa. The battle to protect housing and water on Tarawa from higher and higher tides is real. Overcrowding is very much a problem on Tarawa. The government has tried to get people to return to the outer islands by subsidizing copra prices – now at $2 a kilo. A lot has changed but yet not – health care is still a problem – a new problem is kava – it has taken over for toddy bars. The people are still friendly – they miss the PCVs – PC left during Obama. Everyone was talking Trump when we were there – even the Australian Ambassador hit me up for my perspective.

        We have seen Curt and Cindy several times over the years – I saw Curt 3 years ago for lunch in Minnesota. Have lost track of Jackie – I believe Kevin passed away about 4 or 5 years ago. Craig and Jessica teach at a college in Illinois – Monmouth – but havn’t seen them for years now. We have three boys and one grandson now – life is good. We have thought about seeing Maine and the Northeast sometime – winter is already here – perhaps we can come and visit next year. You are always welcome to visit Kansas – I saw you traveled by motorcycle – years back – real close to us.

        Peace to you, John

      • Thanks for the update, John. You speak of much I observed in 2002. I saw Jackie in 2013 during my motorcycle trip. Kevin had passed away a few months before.

        Thanks for the invite! Hope to see you here or there.

        Be well,

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