Check out these incredibly eye-popping, rich photographs of bees and wasps in up-close (very up-close) and stunning detail.

These photos were created at the U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, with macro cameras that contain huge sensors. The shots are stitched together from many high-resolution images.

In part to observe the decline of bee populations across the world, the images—which exist completely in the public domain—are used to be a part of guides, posters and printed educational material. But, if you want to print one for personal use, these will blow up to five-by-eight feet without pixealting.

Lab chief Sam Droege made an interesting point to Complex. He wrote, via email:

I would like to point out that the palates that these insects use are exquisite, isn't it interesting that Nature has seen fit to paint its creatures so harmoniously?  Why is that?  Why aren't there any examples of jarring color combinations or harsh transitions, or awkward curves or shapes that fail to be proportioned in ways that don't please us...yet we are not the audience, such micro animals are using design created without any notion of art or composition....so why is it so ethereally beautiful?  Now you get to see the unviewed world that, until now, only we, the entomologists, have entered.

Droege says the setup the lab uses costs about $8,000 for all the equipment. But, he tells us, if you have even a marginally good camera with a macro lens, you can recreate the technique. There is a video instructing amateaur photographers how to take these kind of shots on the USGS YouTube page. Check out more photos on Droege's Flickr page.

Get snapping! Just don’t get stung. 

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[via Slate]