Amid colony collapse disorder, bees have been the subject of much attention, but a new documentary called More Than Honey has captured an unusually close look at an often ignored aspect of the colonies: mating. The footage captures a rare look at a queen as she descends on a male drone in mid-flight, extracts his sperm, and then tears away, leaving him to plummet to the ground and die.
To catch this level of detail, the film shot at 300 frames-per-second, lighting the bees with mirrors rather than conventional light so as to keep the environment as natural as possible. As the director wrote on the project's blog, "We had a long list of scenes we wanted to show in the film like 'handing over nectar in the hive' or 'storing pollen.'" Because the bees couldn't be directed, the filmmakers had to monitor the bees to check on when any one particular event was likely to happen. In this case, they simply kept the camera rolling and got lucky.