One reason we got into beekeeping is the shear complexity of the honey bee. We wanted to witness all that these creatures do with our own eyes. Bees are one of the things in life that convince me that there must be a God. I don’t believe something so incredible could have happened by accident. I believe it was designed. I’ve watched several documentaries on bees in the past few months. I began with More than Honey and Vanishing of the Bees. Both of those films are incredibly well done and I credit them for getting me interested in beekeeping. These films (both are on Netflix right now) are not focused on the anatomy of the bee or their behavior as much as they are researching colony collapse disorder and possible ways to fight it. They also emphasize the important of bees in our planet.
We had some friends over for dinner a few nights ago and, as we told them about our bee journey, one of them said, “Hey, I watched a video on bees when I was younger, you should try to find it.” He couldn’t remember the name of the video, but remembered it was made by the Moody Institute. It had left a lasting impact on him. That night I took to YouTube and quickly found City of the Bees, the video my friend was referring to. I was skeptical because it was produced in 1962. In an HD world, my generation will rarely take time for videos that are in standard definition. But had I stopped watching because of that, I would have missed out on something special. This 30 minute video is phenomenal. Probably 10 minutes of the film is focused on the waggle dance: what it is, what it looks like, and how it works. The experiment they performed to show the effectiveness of the dance is so simple yet genius. They put small paint markings on the back of scout bees who, when returning to the hive, performed a waggle dance to communicate to other bees where – PRECISELY – nectar is. Then, the scientists put the same marking on the back of the bees that were being communicated with. They put distinct markings on three different scout bees and the three different groups of bees that were given the intel (all from the same colony). Let’s call those three different test groups A, B, and C. To my amazement, only bees in group A went to the nectar source that the first scout had discovered. Only bees in group B went to the source the second scout had discovered, and only group C went to the third scout’s location. In other words, the bees went exactly where the scouts told them to go, without fail. No bees from Group A went to Group B’s location, or vice versa. Phenomenal stuff. Check out the video to see it with your own eyes. There are a number of other things I learned about bees from watching this video, like the way they produce wax from their bodies…another wow moment.
I encourage you to take 30 minutes and watch. FYI…City of the Bees is now part of the public domain, so there is no copyright infringement by watching or hosting this video on YouTube.