Amazing shot of pollen-covered honeybee eye wins Nikon competition

The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition lets us see the world up close. This year's winner turned his lens on the eye of a honeybee.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

Enlarge Image
You might not want to get too close to a bee, but it didn't bother photographer Ralph Grimm, who won first place in the Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition. Ralph Claus Grimm

If you've ever been bothered by pollen in your eye during allergy season, just think about how the honeybees must feel. The image to the right shows just what dandelion pollen looks like on the little pollinators' eyes, and while it looks uncomfortable for the bee, the photographer who took it is probably anything but. He's just been awarded first place in the Small World Photomicrography Competition hosted by Nikon. (See other entries in the gallery below.)

Captured by Australian Ralph Grimm, the shot was one of more than 2,000 entries from more than 83 countries submitted to Nikon for the competition, which is now in its 41st year. The competition focuses, logically, on photomicrography, which is basically capturing images at a very small scale using a microscope.

In creating his winning shot, Grimm zoomed in on the bee's eye using 120x magnification.

Eye-popping winning pictures from Nikon's Small World contest

See all photos

"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," Nikon said.

Grimm is a high-school teacher who taught himself the art of photomicrography. He's also a former beekeeper, and one of his aims in taking this photo was to call attention to the growing honeybee crisis.

"In a way I feel as though this gives us a glimpse of the world through the eye of a bee," said 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."

You can see other amazing shots from the competition in the gallery below. Nikon will be announcing the winners of the video version of the Small World competition on December 2.