2015 Photomicrography Competition

Eye of a honey bee (Apis mellifera) covered in dandelion pollen

Ralph Grimm

Jimboomba, Queensland, Australia

Reflected Light


Ralph Grimm brings the world eye-to-eye with a honey bee in this year’s powerful winning image, which features a close-up look at a bee eye covered in dandelion pollen grains. Magnified at 120x, the image is not only visually striking, but brings to light just how little is understood about how these incredible insects see the world through complex eyes.

Grimm employed impressive technique to capture this image stack, including over four hours of careful work to mount the eye, set the focus increments, properly illuminate the eye and avoid peripheral smudging during the stacking process. The resulting image is a testament to Grimm’s painstaking efforts.

As a high school teacher, self-taught photomicrographer and former beekeeper, the subject matter is near and dear to Grimm’s heart. While colonies continue to dwindle and bee populations disappear, Grimm hopes his image can serve as a voice for this endangered species that plays such a critical function in pollinating the world’s crops.

“In a way I feel as though this gives us a glimpse of the world through the eye of a bee,” says Grimm. “It’s a subject of great sculptural beauty, but also a warning- that we should stay connected to our planet, listen to the little creatures like bees, and find a way to protect the earth that we all call home.”