Woody Peony and Honeybees, 50 mm

The bees happily rolled around among the stamens, notice their full pollen sacs.

Like the previous year, spring 2022, though cold, is early. As I write this the peony blooms presented here, photographed May, 2021 are seeding. Every year, Pam and I marvel at the color. 2019 this peony was in full bloom only by the end of May, around Memorial Day.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr, and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head. Color results from the Canon dslr are impressive. In prior years I favored shooting late evening in the shade with a slight underexposure. This year I experimented with full sunlight. I found a slight under exposure captured the plum – fine burgundy wine nature of this Japanese cultivar, “Shimadaijin,” planted in the 1970’s or 1980’s.

This set brings out the petal’s fiery nature. In the wild, woody (also called tree) peonies favored cliffs and scrub of western and central China, eastern Himalayas (southeastern Tibet).

By a happy accident our neighbor’s honeybees foraged the nectar and pollen of these newly opened blooms. The woody stems hold the profusion of large flowers each one erect. “Tree” is a misnomer as this plant is a shrub growing mid-thigh high. One of the classic ornamental genera of China, known there as moutan or hua wang “King of Flowers.”

Cultivation in China began in Chekiang in the early 4th century AD. By the early Tang period (circa 700 AD) hundreds of varieties were grown.

The bees happily rolled around among the stamens, notice their full pollen sacs.

ISO 1600 f16 1/250 sec

Roger Philips and Martyn Rix, “The Botanical Garden, Vol 1, Trees and Shrubs” p 133
Wikipedia “Magenta” color

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills


10 thoughts on “Woody Peony and Honeybees, 50 mm

    1. Thanks you for the excellent compliment!! Remember: the “eyes” of the peony tubers must face upward to the sky, not covered by dirt. If covered, the plant will not flower. I forget this sometimes.

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