It happens every year - I can't help it.
|Bee In The Maple: f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 200|
It took a few tries, but but I managed to get a couple of shots that I think worked out like I wanted. I also shot with a relatively wide open aperture that also helped blur the background - you can just see the reddish blur of other flowers in the background. These add a little interest and keep the shot from looking like it was taken in a studio. The specular highlights on the bee from the flash are pretty cool, especially the hexagonal one on the compound eye.
This shot worked because I read about a technique, remembered it and then used that technique when I ran into a situation where it was applicable. In this case I needed to do something different because the background would have been too cluttered with more tree branches, other insects buzzing about and the rest of the world behind the shot. Now the challenge will be to remember how I did this and to keep using it where it works to simplify a shot and bring real focus to my subject. That seems to be a big challenge for me; I am learning lots of new things as I work to improve my pictures, but I haven't used them enough for them to become second nature for me yet. I guess that means I'll just have to take more pictures!