Two Oregon wildlife photographers will have their their pictures of honeybees featured in the new Protect Pollinators Forever postage stamps scheduled to be released this week.
The stamps are designed to pay tribute to pollinating insects. Studies show native bees and butterflies are at risk from pesticide exposure and habitat loss.
The series features five photos of honeybees and monarch butterflies on various flowers.
Two of the five stamps in the series showcase images of honeybees by photographers Michael Durham of Portland and George Lepp of Bend.
Durham, 52, spent hours taking hundreds of pictures using custom lighting and a 100mm macro lens to capture the image of a honeybee on a purple aster flower in his wife’s garden.
“I love the fact that this image got chosen by the post office,” he said. “You get some bragging rights, right?”
In his 27 years as a photographer, Durham has documented wildlife for the Oregon Zoo and the National Park Service, and his photos have been published by many outlets including National Geographic and National Wildlife Magazine.
He enjoys photographing wildlife that is difficult to observe such as spotted bats and red tree voles. He’s spent a good deal of time photographing native bees with a high-speed camera.
His said he hopes the new stamps help people appreciate pollinators such as honeybees.
“Pollinators are a vital part of the ecosystem,” he said. “A photograph can show you things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see with the naked eye.”
Another stamp in the new series features a photo of a honeybee on a yellow ragwort flower taken by Bend resident George Lepp.
He was surprised to hear that the post office had chosen a photo he shot on film more than 15 years ago. While technology has changed dramatically since the photo was taken, he said, having this image chosen by the Postal Service proves that older photography is still viable.
“This is the kind of photography I’ve done all this time, and am still doing,” he said. “I’m doing it differently now and digitally, using different techniques, but the idea is the same.”
Lepp, 72, has worked as a stock photographer for 45 years. He recently completed a 4K video of a bald eagle’s nest that followed a hatchling over four months; it’s on display in the Smith Rock State Park visitor’s center. He’s also been taking super close-up photos of the pandora moth in Central Oregon.
“This is a really nice culmination of what I’ve been doing for a really long time,” he said. “The monetary return on this is not great, but at the same time not many people get their picture on a U.S. stamp.”
The stamps will be dedicated on Wednesday at the American Philatelic Society National Summer Convention Stamp Show in Richmond, Virginia.