Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Queen Honeybee Mating Flight in Slow Motion

When the air is wine and the wind is free
and the morning sits on the lovely leaf,
and sunlight ripples on every tree
Then love-in-air is the thing for me
I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
That’s me.
I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,
It’s the place to pair
With a bee.

from Song of the Queen Bee by E.B. White

When people ask me about the lifespan of a bee, they're always surprised by the variability depending on what type of bee we're talking about. Queens can live for years. Workers live about 6-7 weeks during the summer, a bit longer in winter. But the drones -- either they die during mating or they get evicted from the hive when the weather cools down. In my opinion, it's better to burn out than fade away, but that's another topic.

So, as the title of this post promised, here is a link to a clip from a new documentary called More Than Honey, which shows a drone mating with a queen bee in mid-air. (BTW, I highly recommend watching the movie trailer, too.)

The filming of this just amazing. I read on Smithsonian that:
To get shots like this, the filmmakers used mini-helicopters equipped with ultra-high speed cameras (the clip above has 300 frames-per-second) and a so-called “bee-whisperer,” who carefully tracked the activity of 15 different hives so the crew could move them to a filming studio when a particular event was imminent. “The mating queen was the biggest challenge: we spent days on a scaffolding tower attracting drones with queen pheromones,” ... “Her wedding flight, which was 36 seconds, took more than ten days—and we only actually saw it one and a half times."

Can't wait to see the whole documentary! 

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