Photographers Paula Sharp and Ross Eatman spent three years documenting wild bees. They followed them as they moved between agricultural plants, woodland nests and flora.
Thanks to their work, you can now get up close and personal with the pollinators in an exhibit at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum. The “Wild Bees“ exhibition is a collection of 26 photographs representing more than 120 species. It opened at the downtown Baton Rouge museum at the end of last year and will be on display until April 30. The museum says it has been a big hit with educators and nature enthusiasts throughout Louisiana.
“Wild bees are important pollinators. Without them, we would have a hard time growing some Louisiana wildflowers, fruit trees, and garden plants,” says Tracey Barhorst, Curator and Public Programs Manager of LASM. “My favorite photograph is Paula Sharp’s ‘Small Carpenter Bee on Wild Rose.’ It’s almost unbelievable to imagine that this image was taken in the wild forest.”
Sharp-Eatman Nature Photography was founded to document conservation issues. Its Wild Bees exhibit, sponsored by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, first launched in 2016 at the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, and it has been on a national tour since 2017.
The exhibit includes informational panels describing where wild bees live and the variety of habitats. Contrary to honey bees, wild bees live for short periods coinciding with the bloom cycles of specific plants. This makes them more susceptible to weather reversals such as frosts, droughts and heavy rain. Honey bees’ organized colonies also lend them higher survival rates than the self-sufficient wild bees.
As a complement to “Wild Bees,” LASM opens plans to open another nature-themed art exhibit on March 1: the “Artistry and Accuracy: The Botanical Illustrations of Margaret Stones.” A series of botanical prints by Margaret Stones (1920-2018) began as a commission of six watercolor drawings intended to commemorate the bicentennial of America and the 50th anniversary of LSU’s Baton Rouge campus. The collection grew to 224 watercolor drawings and is now known as the Native Flora of Louisiana Collection. Twelve of the illustrations were offered as prints in a limited-edition series, and LASM will have all twelve to display.
“(‘Wild Bees’) is a wonderful exhibit for connecting art and science,” says Serena Pandos, president and executive Director of LASM. “We are so pleased to be able to pair this with the work by Margaret Stones.”
“Wild Bees” is available to view with the museum’s general admission. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children of ages 3-12 and seniors 65 or older. Admission is free for museum members, all active-duty military, first responders, veterans and their families. The museum also offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month, including unlimited Irene W. Pennington Planetarium shows. LASM is at 100 S. River Road.
After the exhibition departs LASM on April 30, it will head to the Everhart Museum in Pennsylvania.
This article originally appeared in a February 2023 edition of 225 Daily, the newsletter from our sister magazine, 225.