|One of my girls enjoying a Sunflower|
"Tales from the Hive" is a beautiful movie from the PBS program Nova which follows a bee colony for a year. The usage of macro lenses allows the viewer to see intimate activity inside the hive like the exchange of nectar between the foraging bees and the hive bees. They were also able to film bees in flight and the mating of the queen.
"We built a tower about 26 feet high and mounted the camera at the end of a six-and-a-half-foot-long extension. With this we were able to set the camera into a 360-degree rotation. (The queen has to be flying to mate.) We "tied" the queen in front of the camera, then we had to lure the drones from their altitude of 100 feet or so down to the level of our queen. For this purpose, we filled a weather balloon with helium, tied queens in a cage underneath that balloon, and let it rise. The idea was to draw the drones down with the queens' pheromones."
Cinematographer Wolfgang Thaler
"Amazingly, it worked on the very first day. I don't know how or why; perhaps I'm lucky. On the other hand, we never succeeded in repeating this scene over the following days. When the queen finally moved her wings, the drones were not interested; when she flew and the drones felt like it, the wind was too strong. If I had known how impossible it would be to film the scene while I was writing the script, I would have cut out the queen's mating flight."
"With every day of the shoot, we became richer in experience, and so I saved myself the most difficult shots for the end. These included the queen laying her eggs (filmed from the inside of the honey cell), the storage of pollen, and the feeding of the larva with royal jelly. Again we had a lucky day, because queens are the shyest of all bees, especially young queens. As soon as something disrupts their environment, they stop their natural behavior and hide among thousands of bees."