A standardized survey aims to photograph bees for the same length of time, at the same time of day, in the same place, and under the same weather conditions repeatedly over months or years. Your standardized, biweekly photo surveys will document bee diversity and behavior. After you submit your observations to iNaturalist, we will identify the bees and plants in your photographs to see if bees behave differently in urban, suburban, and rural environments. For more detail on the protocol, check out our Shutterbee Participant Guide in the resources below.

How to Photograph Bees On the Move

Taking photos of busy bees is challenging! However, your pictures don’t have to be perfect or artistic to make good data. We are also often successful in identifying objectively “bad” photos. So if the bee is somewhat visible and in focus, upload it to iNaturalist and give us a crack at identifying it!

Get close! Fill the image with the bee and the flower it is visiting. Bees are very unlikely to sting unless they feel threatened, so don’t be afraid to get close! Try to take your photos at a distance of about 5-10 inches away from the bee.

Get multiple angles! Ideally, you will want great photographs of: (a) Top (dorsal) view of the head and body and (b) Side (lateral) view of the head and body.

Bee Patient! Live organisms don’t always do what we want or expect them to do. So just be patient, let the bees come to you, and be ready to act fast when they do.​

Learn to Predict How Will They Move! Keep an eye out for how they handle different kinds of flowers. Once you’ve had some practice, you may notice some patterns in how bees forage on different types of flowers. Check out this video by James Faupel and Cheyenne Davis detailing some common behaviors.

Practice, Practice, Practice! It takes time and practices to figure out what works best for you and your camera. Try out some different approaches to find the best one for you before starting your first official survey. ​

Use technology to your advantage! Use the ‘live’ feature on iPhone or ‘motion’ on Android to make it easier to get an in-focus photo. Your camera takes multiple photographs in quick succession, and you can choose which ones to upload.  If you want, you can try using a detachable macro lens. There are many lenses out there, we recommend getting one with a focal length of two inches or greater. We liked the Apexel Macro 100mm, but there are many other comparable options! 


How to submit Shutterbee observations to iNaturalist


Website Powered by