Bees are one of those insects that no one really likes. I’ve seen plenty of grown men that do the ‘freak out’ bee dance whenever this tiny, buzzing creature is near, and I don’t blame them. But bees are a very important part of our ecosystem as they pollinate about a third of our crops (according to the video) and produce honey and beeswax. In recent years, the bee population has been declining at an alarming rate.  For this month’s issue of National Geographic, photographer Anand Verma photographed and studied why these bee colonies are disappearing so rapidly.


In order to do this, Anand figured the best way was to keep bees in his backyard so he could see them up close, raise them in front of the camera and see what was ailing these valuable workers. He discovered that aside from the problem of pesticides, habitat loss and diseases, the “single greatest threat [to bees] is a parasitic mite from Asia.” The mite, which is about the size of a pinhead, sucks the blood from young bees and weakens the immune system of the bee. In turn, this eventually destroys a hive because they are “more vulnerable to stress and disease.”


Working with researchers at UC Davis, Anand took footage of the first 21 days in a bee’s life and created the following 60 second time-lapse. The resulting video is an incredible, up-close macro look off bees from the hatching of larvae, to its complete metamorphosis. What he discovered in this process was that the mites would attack the developing bees in the cell. That information was sent onto researchers to figure out ways to irradicate the mites.

Watch the fascinating TedTalk below, Anand’s incredible images, and marvel at the amazing joint efforts of nature and scientists to save the honey bees.

[Via Pop Photo]