How to take great photos of bumblebees

February 16, 2022

This February we’re asking you to send us photos of your early bumblebee sightings for our big Bee Challenge.

To be in with the best chance of getting a great photo we asked photographer Caroline Bailey to share her top tips for how to photograph bumblebees.

Tip 1: Be patient

Like many other insects, bees move quickly and are easily startled. Move slowly and keep as much distance from the bee as you can. A quick shutter speed on your camera or ‘burst’ photo setting on your phone can help but be prepared for some of your photos to be out of focus, or to not even have a bee in the frame!

Tip 2: Think about where the light is

If you cast a shadow over your subject it will not only show up in your photo but will probably frighten the bee away.

Buff-tailed bumblebee by Caroline Bailey

Tip 3: Get all the angles

Bumblebees aren’t easy to identify from photos because they have useful features dotted all over their bodies. Even worse, they often curl up, hiding their head and tail, and tuck in their legs. The best way to make sure your mystery bee is identifiable is to take several photos showing as many areas as possible.

Caroline Bailey

Tip 4: Try different locations

Different bumblebee species can be found in different habitats so try looking in your garden, among long grass or in woodland clearings. Remember you’re more likely to see bees on bright, sunny days with little wind.

Tip 5: If you’re using a phone don’t zoom in

If you’re using a phone camera don’t use the zoom. Take your photo on the widest setting and then crop it afterwards.


Visit the Bee Challenge page to find out how to share your photos. We’ve got Bee Boxes and Meadow Starter Kits up for grabs for your best bumblebee photos and most interesting sightings!