Documentary camera and drone operator Josh Forwood specializes in capturing wildlife, science, and adventure footage. And like most of the world, he's been abiding by quarantine regulations. So, upon returning home to the UK after a recent shoot, he found himself stuck in the house for a while. Like any good creative, he made the most of his time and ended up photographing fascinating portraits of the bees in his garden.
Prior to leaving for his shoot, Forwood had created a bee hotel for his garden. This was his way to help the solitary bee population, which is struggling with habitat loss. “Bees are a keystone species on which countless plants rely for pollination. Without bees, those plants would all but die out; without those plants, the plants, insects, and animals that rely on them for homes, food, and natural fertilizer would also die out and so on,” Forwood tells My Modern Met.
Forwood was particularly keen to help solitary bee species, as honeybees have been increasing in population due to the honey industry, which is creating a monoculture that can be problematic. Solitary bees are actually more effective pollinators than honeybees, which makes their survival critical.
After building his bee hotel, and sharing a video on how he did so, Forwood left for his project. To his delight, he found the hotel buzzing with activity upon his return. As he observed the bees, he began to notice that after flying into their chosen hole, they would peer out and rest for a short period before flying off again. That's when a new photo project was born.
The avid wildlife photographer seized the opportunity, arming himself with a macro lens, and got to work. “The most challenging thing was getting the camera positioned in time,” Forwood shared. “From the point a bee landed and crawled into position, there could be anything from a couple of seconds to a minute before they flew off again. In that time, I'd have to adjust the camera height and distance, get focused, and take several photos before they moved.”
The photographs are an incredible look at these often misunderstood insects. While many people are afraid of bees, they are actually quite docile creatures who go about their business if left undisturbed. Solitary bees, who don't have a hive to protect them, are even less apt to be aggressive since they don't have any backup.
By publishing his portraits, which show the unique characteristics of each bee, Forwood hopes that more people will take time to consider the plight of these insects, which are fundamental to our ecosystem. “I hope that people will be encouraged to plant native wildflowers and to build or buy bee hotels for their garden, and to convince their local councils to do the same in public green areas, to help the solitary bee population,” he says. “I hope that people will think twice before crushing a wasp or a bee beneath their shoe or against a window with a magazine. They likely will completely ignore you if you ignore them, and they are doing their bit to keep our world running, keep pests out of your garden, and food on your plate.”