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Bee Wolf

Bee Wolf
Photo Information
Copyright: Ram Thakur (ramthakur) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4316 W: 231 N: 14052] (56953)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-05-10
Categories: Insects
Camera: Nikon D200, Sigma EX 105mm F2.8 DG Macro, 58mm UV
Exposure: f/7.1, 1/250 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-05-11 6:04
Viewed: 4089
Points: 44
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Philanthus triangulum

The genus Philanthus of the subfamilly Philanthinae is in the family Crabronidae. The genus consists of solitary, predatory wasps, most of which prey on bees, giving them the common name "beewolves." The adult females dig tunnels in the ground for nesting, while the territorial males mark twigs and other objects with pheromones to claim the territory from competing males.
As with all other sphecoid wasps the larvae are carnivorous, forcing the inseminated females to hunt for other invertebrates, (in this case bees) on which she lays her eggs, supplying the larvae with prey when they emerge. The adults collect nectar from flowers or from squeezing the bees they capture for prey, which is their energy source for flight. The prevalent European species P. triangulum specializes in preying upon honeybees, thus making it a minor pest for beekeepers. Other Philanthus species may specialize on other bee species, or they may be generalists which prey upon a wide variety of bees, or other types of Hymenoptera.
They are notable in stinging their prey in a membranous location on the ventral surface where the venom quickly paralyzes major voluntary muscles, yet does not kill the prey. The prey may attempt to sting in return, but it is always grabbed in such a way that only well armored portions of the beewolf's body is presented. The beewolf carries the prey back to a tunnel, but usually only stores it temporarily, until it is later used to provision a cell burrow, where an egg is laid. The prey may be squeezed to extract any nectar that it was carrying, upon which the female beewolf will feed.

Philanthus triangulum, or the European Beewolf is a solitary wasp, that lives in Southern Europe and Northern Africa, although sightings have occurred as far north as the Isle of Wight. Though the adults of the species are herbivores (feeding on nectar and pollen), and do not eat bees, the species gets its name from the fact that the inseminated females hunt honeybees to feed the larvae. `

The handsome insect has undergone a rapid range expansion in Britain following a series of hot, dry summers. Until recently this solitary wasp was only found as a rarity on the south coast but it may now be seen in almost any suitable habitat in southern England. The nests are established in loose "colonies" in sandy soil and their notorious predation of Honeybees Apis mellifera is quite fascinating to watch. The female wasps capture feeding honeybees, sting them in order to induce paralysis and then carry the bees back to their nests slung underneath their bodies and clamped in position (upside-down) by the middle pair of legs. The wasps relocate their nests even if they have been disturbed and then open up the entrances with their front legs (often with the captive bees still in situ) before carrying the prey deep into their burrows and stocking up their larders. It is interesting to note that a paralysed bee will not be taken by another wasp even if is left temporarily unguarded. It is also apparent that these wasps concentrate purely on a single prey species, ignoring other similar bees or honeybee mimics like drone-flies.
The note is based on info from following sites:


Press F11 for full view please.

Argus, Dan, JoseMiguel, ridvan, jaycee, demeve, garyfudge, Jamesp, fartash, nainnain, anel, cicindela has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To cicindela: Hi Radomirramthakur 3 05-15 04:35
To Argus: Really Ph. triangulum??cicindela 1 05-14 09:39
To Argus: Bee Wolframthakur 2 05-11 06:50
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • batu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1079 W: 293 N: 4497] (16383)
  • [2007-05-11 6:11]

Hello Ram,
a very nice picture with excellent focus on the head of the insect, showing excellently all 5 eyes. Also antennae and structures of the legs are seen clearly. Nice colours and light.
Best wishes, Peter

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2007-05-11 6:23]

Hola Ram,
extraño insecto,
original pov,
detalles y nitidez...

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-05-11 6:33]
  • [+]

Hello Ram,
Fine capture of a species of wasp new to me. Excellent use of the limited DOF, focusing sharply on the head to reveal superb head detail, especially of the eyes. Nicely composed on its BG leaf and optimal use of flash.
TFS and best wishes, Ivan

BTW, in order to predate on bees means that this must be 2.5- 3 cm long?

bonjour ram
un bel insecte,ses couleurs sont vives,la tête est parfaitement nette,de bons details etune note tres devellopée.
il n'y a que le flash qui est un peu trop present sur les ailes.

hello Ram,
I never seen this insect before, youdid do a good capture here, good macro shot, good quality shot, well done.
gr. jaap

  • Great 
  • Dan Gold Star Critiquer [C: 113 W: 0 N: 2] (18)
  • [2007-05-11 7:20]

Hi Ram, so you are a wonderfuls macro specialist! An other interesting insect with beautiful colors and excellent details.
TFS, Dan

selam ivan; excellent macro shot of this bee wolf,good details presented , nice BG and POV, well captured with nice colours TFS

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2007-05-11 9:12]

Hi Ram,
Excellent close-up shot of this species, new to me. Such gorgeous eyes and sharp focus and the green leaf BG makes it wonderful. Your informative note has made us learn about this peculiar species too. Very nicely composed and presented. Kudos.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-05-11 10:39]

Hi Ram,

I am learning so much from you - about photography and insects! I always thought a wasp was a wasp. You must have been right on top of it to get those fine details. The head is amazing.


  • Great 
  • OzBY Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 183 W: 2 N: 351] (1355)
  • [2007-05-11 10:49]

Hi Ram,

Greate picture of this wasp.
Great color, lighting and background.


  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2007-05-11 12:55]

Good morning Ram, wonderful capture of this lovely Bee Wolf excellent macro work, very intersting insect, I don't think I have seem one of this,the collors, composition, and the sharpness are great..well done..

Hi Ram,

wonderful capture, with such intricate detail. The flash works well, really high-lighting his head.

We don't get those in the Highlands yet!


Hi Ram,
I just realize you're changed the camera, congratulations!!!
Figuring out if you already have done with the manual of the camera...lot of new controls and things to learn.
Wish you a smooth transition to DSLR and a very productive one!

This is an excellent macro!
You got a really close approach, to bring us all these clear details on the insect.
The textures on the head and on the leaves are amazing.
Perhaps there are a lot of light reflections, due to the strong fill flash.
Well done and thanks for share it.
My best regards,

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2007-05-11 13:42]

Hi Ram

An informative note and great shot. I was unaware of this species and you have shown it vey well. Good focus and colour.


Hello Ram
Wonderful shot of this Bee Wolf,
Perfect composition and focusing,
Fantastic colors and BG,Intersting spiece and note,Superb shot.


  • Great 
  • magal Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 224 W: 0 N: 313] (1251)
  • [2007-05-11 15:59]

Hi Ram,
I see you are using a DSLR now! It seems I have missed too much by my long absence from TN.
Strange looking bee you present here, very nicely composed and well exposed. Maybe a tad more attention to DOF would help [immo]. Top notch note is beyond comments.
Anyway, it's just great to be back and simply communicate through nature with photography acting as the medium.
TFS and best regards

Olá Ram.
Grande foto, belissima macro !
Bom relatório sobre o inseto Parabéns !

hello RAM
merveilleuse macro, couleurs superbes bon bg, tout est parfait , merci; amitiès

Hi again Ram, wonderful macro of a splendid Philanthus triangulum, great colors, excellent details, very well done, ciao Silvio

Hello ram,
A species and family unknown to me. It´s impressive the focus and sharpness in the head but I think out of focus in wings and abdomen. Useful note.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-05-14 7:54]

Hello Ram,
Sorry being so late,I was in my beloved mountains.
What an impressive wasp you show us here. And how cruel they behave. Your shot is excellent showing many details and sharply the two big and the three small eyes.Thank's also for the instructive note.
Best regards

Hello Ram!
very interesting Hymenoptera species - a female of Philanthus triangulum. Interesting is that in Philanthus triangulum sexes are in different colours (which I learned from your photos dear Ram!), is especially on the abdomen. I have posted a male of this species some weeks ago. You can compare your photo with my presentation here.
Please note that in my specimens the abdomen has black parts while in your individual it is only yellow. There are also differences in colours of thorax :)

Anyway, Philanthus triangulum belongs to Sphecidae family :>

By the way, this is really nice macro :)
Best greetings,

PS. Because Ram is right, I changed original comment to this photo :) Thanks Ram for another lesson of entomology!!! :)

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