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joe dlugo


Thank you for visiting my site!  I am an avid wildlife gardener from the Puget Sound region of Washington State, a land known for its wild things.  Having worked hard to enhance habitat for much of my life, it was only in recent years that I began to take notice of bees.  I will never forget the moment when I found that loud and unfamiliar insect visiting the Salvia flowers I had planted for hummingbirds.  After a difficult search to figure out just what it was, I identified it as a wool carder bee.  What a moment it was to discover that there was a world of bees beyond honey bees and bumble bees!  


Soon I began to notice bees of many more kinds.  There were some colored red, iridescent green, jet black.  Some were big and some were as tiny as the eye of a needle. This world was so fascinating, I felt it had to be shared.  Of course, bees are tiny and difficult to see with the unaided eye, so the value of good photographs to share could not be understated.  However, at the time I was first learning about bees there were few photos of bees other than honey bees, and most were difficult to glean detail from.  The sharpest photos that could be found were usually dead specimens on pins.  These were certainly very interesting, but not the kind of images that tell the vital story of bees, a story that plays out on the most beautiful and colorful of environments in the world: flowers.  So I taped a magnifying glass to the front of my camera lens and set out to create vibrant images of the bees alive in their habitat.  

Quite simply, Bee Safari is my effort to share the love of bees through my photography and experiences as I transform my garden into an oasis for pollinators.  I hope you'll enjoy this close look at their tiny and diverse world. Maybe you'll be motivated to plant a garden of your own, join in native habitat restoration, or simply just notice them.  One way or another, I'm glad you're here and the bees have your attention.

After many seasons of watching bees, I can say my favorite species is Andrena prunorum.  My favorite native wildflower is Phacelia heterophylla. My favorite color is orange, which strangely is a color that bees have a hard time seeing.

Joe Dlugo photographing bees on mountain mint flowers

Getting the shot: 


I use a variety of photo gear depending on the situation, but my main rig is currently a Canon EOS 90D paired with a 60mm EF-S f/2.8 macro lens, 270EX II flash and a homemade diffuser that is essentially a paper towel in a plastic sleeve attached to the lens. I also use a twin flash mounted to Lucas Strobe Systems bracket (shown on left) with dual Nissin i40 flashes.

An eastern carpenter bee on buttonbush flowers

The first photo of a bee I ever took. Circa 2000 at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center near Chicago.  It's an eastern carpenter bee on polkweed. 

Joe Dlugo standing behind a large clump of flowers of many colors. He is wearing a safari hat and a shirt that says "save the bees."  Behind him is a birdhouse on a pole with a Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat sign.

In my pollinator garden.  Currently it hosts over 150 plant species and efforts are underway to replace many ornamentals and garden varieties with native plants. 

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