Watch a Queen Bee Mate With a Drone in Mid-Flight

Apiphobes, look away now. Everyone else, you’re about to see an incredible close-up of a queen bee getting busy in mid-air. Spoiler alert: the drone dies in the end. All hail the queen.

The clip comes courtesy of More Than Honey, a new film that examines the increasingly persistent buzz surrounding the worsening plight of honeybees. There’s no known explanation for the widespread Colony Collapse Disorder, which has decimated over half of the 2.4 million beehives in the US alone over the past decade—a terrifying number made even more so by the fact that 80 percent of our plant life depends on bee pollination (this is what grocery shelves would look like without their help).

In order to snag the footage they were after—a staggering 105 hours worth in 35 days—the crew employed a “bee-whisperer." This unconventional staffer kept tabs on 15 chosen colonies and anticipated their “important events”, like storing pollen and building wax, so that the hives could be transported into a purpose-built studio in Austria and these scenes could be properly recorded when the time was right.


In an interview with the Honeybee Conservancy, director Markus Imhoff discussed the difficulties of capturing these insects in action. “The mating queen was the biggest challenge: we spent days on a scaffolding tower attracting drones with queen pheromones," he explains. "Her wedding flight, which was 36 seconds, took more than ten days—and we only actually saw it one and a half times.”

And while it may seem terrifying to see these swarms up close, after viewing the trailer it’s actually far more haunting to see their lifeless bodies en masse. Here’s hoping that answers, and solutions, arrive soon. [PopSci]


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