Bee Conservation Through Photography – Faline Howard, 16

My project focused on how photography connects to the conservation of the environment, specifically bees. When I was beginning middle school, my Girl Scout troop won a contest of developing and maintaining a bee garden. After the fires in 2017, my troop used our bee garden, along with our efforts to replant at a local farm in Santa Rosa, to participate in a podcast, sponsored by NAAEE, concentrating on the contributions of bee gardens to the restoration of the county. After researching and learning about the importance of the bee population, I fell in love with spreading awareness of the hardships this species is faced with and how to help them. During this time, I began to understand that to educate and inform people, myself included, the presence of a visual element is a necessity. This serves a few purposes. The photographer is awarded with the opportunity to observe the insects in their natural habitat. Along with this, the audience of the final picture is able to view the specific moment in time that portrays the bees’ involvement in the environment. These two elements create a connection between us as a human population with the bee population, which, in turn, promotes the protection of the fundamental species.

After my presentation, I hope for the audience to connect with the bee population as well as to want to help them. When I research bees, much of the information about their decline is meant to scare the people into feeling like there is no sense of hope for them and they will eventually become extinct and take us out with them. While these statistics and messages are meant to help the population, they do not spark hope to be proactive in most people. Finding a connection with the bees will result in wanting to save them and can be more effective in battling this climate crisis.

For this project, I went out to a residential area, a hiking trail, and a backyard garden away from urban areas. I sat down near the targeted flowers and took many pictures to capture their importance and role in the ecosystem as pollinators. During this time, I was able to witness their behavior patterns and individual characteristics. For example, I was lucky to be able to photograph a carpenter bee. Prior to this, I had limited knowledge of these specific insects, but after watching them, I would best describe them as having the personality of a dog in the form of an insect. One of the challenges that I encountered was capturing the moving bees at the right time to have a focused picture to completely portray the bees’ personalities and duties being completed. The first time I took pictures, I took almost one hundred pictures with only six potentially acceptable shots. Initially, I was disappointed that I had to delete most of the pictures, but I am able to appreciate the other ones more due to the amount of time and effort I put into them. Overall, I enjoyed the process of discovering new techniques and spending time with the bees.

There is a common misconception that bees are out to sting you. As long as I did not disturb them, for each time I went out to take pictures, I was able to sit right next to the flowers and get extremely close to the bees without getting stung. I was also able to relay this information disproving the misconception to my friends that are terrified of bees. After showing them the pictures and describing my proximity to them without any repercussions, my friends are more accepting of realizing that the honeybees are more beneficial than harmful.

The most enjoyable part of doing this project was composing it. During each section of completing the presentation, I found many aspects to be satisfied with. I spent most of my time taking the pictures of the bees due to how easy it was for time to pass by while I sat and observed and recorded them. When I was constructing the visual components into the presentation, I had conversations with my friends for feedback and I saw them also form a connection with the bee population. I am excited to contribute to the conservation of the bees and will continue to strive to help them.

Learn from Faline about why bee conservation matter, and see her photographs: