You’ve almost certainly never seen bees quite so up-close before. Tangled up on the ground, this ball of bees makes for a pretty fascinating – not to mention very cute, at least at first glance – photograph.
The snap was the Grand Prize winner of the 2022 edition of the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition. It was taken in south Texas by Karine Aigner and shows the moment when a female cactus bee emerges from the nest and males vie for their chance to mate with her. In other words, yes, we’re sort of witnessing a bee orgy. Not so cute now, eh?
The competition is organised every year by the California Academy of Sciences. it always focuses on wildlife and conservation, but this year photographers were also asked to highlight Earth’s diversity and threats to the planet. While you can view the entire winning selection here, below we’ve picked out some of our favourites, including…
This huge, crusty fish
A hungry jaguar
A cinematic beaver
A really, really well-framed bat
This freaky flooded cave
A stoat doing a ‘Glee’ pose
And this tempestuous starfish
This gallery was originally published in bioGraphic, an independent magazine about nature and conservation powered by the California Academy of Sciences, and media partner of the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition.