The first 21 days of a bee’s life | Anand Varma

(Music) These bees are in my backyard
in Berkeley, California. Until last year,
I’d never kept bees before, but National Geographic asked me
to photograph a story about them, and I decided, to be able
to take compelling images, I should start keeping bees myself. And as you may know, bees pollinate one third
of our food crops, and lately they’ve been having
a really hard time. So as a photographer, I wanted to explore
what this problem really looks like. So I’m going to show you
what I found over the last year. This furry little creature is a fresh young bee halfway emerged
from its brood cell, and bees right now are dealing
with several different problems, including pesticides, diseases,
and habitat loss, but the single greatest threat
is a parasitic mite from Asia, Varroa destructor. And this pinhead-sized mite
crawls onto young bees and sucks their blood. This eventually destroys a hive because it weakens
the immune system of the bees, and it makes them more vulnerable
to stress and disease. Now, bees are the most sensitive when they’re developing
inside their brood cells, and I wanted to know
what that process really looks like, so I teamed up
with a bee lab at U.C. Davis and figured out how to raise bees
in front of a camera. I’m going to show you
the first 21 days of a bee’s life condensed into 60 seconds. This is a bee egg
as it hatches into a larva, and those newly hatched larvae
swim around their cells feeding on this white goo
that nurse bees secrete for them. Then, their head and their legs
slowly differentiate as they transform into pupae. Here’s that same pupation process, and you can actually see the mites
running around in the cells. Then the tissue in their body reorganizes and the pigment slowly
develops in their eyes. The last step of the process
is their skin shrivels up and they sprout hair. (Music) So — (Applause) As you can see halfway
through that video, the mites were running around
on the baby bees, and the way that beekeepers
typically manage these mites is they treat their hives with chemicals. In the long run, that’s bad news, so researchers are working
on finding alternatives to control these mites. This is one of those alternatives. It’s an experimental breeding program
at the USDA Bee Lab in Baton Rouge, and this queen and her attendant bees
are part of that program. Now, the researchers figured out that some of the bees have
a natural ability to fight mites, so they set out to breed
a line of mite-resistant bees. This is what it takes
to breed bees in a lab. The virgin queen is sedated and then artificially inseminated
using this precision instrument. Now, this procedure allows the researchers to control exactly
which bees are being crossed, but there’s a tradeoff
in having this much control. They succeeded in breeding
mite-resistant bees, but in that process, those bees
started to lose traits like their gentleness
and their ability to store honey, so to overcome that problem, these researchers are now collaborating
with commercial beekeepers. This is Bret Adee opening
one of his 72,000 beehives. He and his brother run the largest
beekeeping operation in the world, and the USDA is integrating their
mite-resistant bees into his operation with the hope that over time, they’ll be able to select the bees
that are not only mite-resistant but also retain all of these qualities
that make them useful to us. And to say it like that makes it sound like we’re manipulating
and exploiting bees, and the truth is, we’ve been doing that
for thousands of years. We took this wild creature
and put it inside of a box, practically domesticating it, and originally that was
so that we could harvest their honey, but over time we started losing
our native pollinators, our wild pollinators, and there are many places now
where those wild pollinators can no longer meet the pollination
demands of our agriculture, so these managed bees have become
an integral part of our food system. So when people talk about saving bees, my interpretation of that is we need to save
our relationship to bees, and in order to design new solutions, we have to understand
the basic biology of bees and understand the effects
of stressors that we sometimes cannot see. In other words, we have
to understand bees up close. Thank you. (Applause)


  1. Why does nobody mention the fact that bees might be disappearing because of mobile phone antenna radiation???????????

    It's almost like they are doing GMO Bees now!

    Oh HUMANS!!!

  2. SubhanAllah. All of this is described in detail in the Holy QURAN over 1400 years ago!
    Allahu Akbar

  3. Like the presenter said, "our relationship with the bees must change" if we are to help them survive. Bees are very resilient creatures but brutality of humans towards these beautiful creatures know no bounds. I have seen on documentaries specially in the USA where some bee keepers treat them like pests with no regard to their safety or well being. These people out to be banned from keeping bees. And of course one of the main reasons for the colony collapse is the bombardment of Monsanto chemicals in crops and in our environment and not to mention chem-trails.

  4. this research is very important. not only for protecting bees against mites. If we learn more about their biology, then one day we might even see what makes the bees knees so excellent.

  5. Keep up the good work. You are a member of Krishna's Jadu tribe, who were blessed by Lord Vishnu, enabling them to keep up the good work (Karma) like you, helping them to prosper and multiply, to 38 million (according to Vishnu Purana), and spread all over India. Today 80% Indians carry Jadu blood.

  6. loved it.. what an inspiration 🙂 Anand Varma you rock 😀 Loved the idea of live music in the ted talk. Your film is a great way of educating people why is it so important to SAVE BEES. GREAT TED TALK. MADE MY DAY 🙂

  7. If this were my hive I'd burn it, looks to be infested with diseases (look at the mold and Varroa), and no responsible beekeeper should let it fall into the state where the wax is black. Also look at how many larvae die initially (how do they even grow besides, when they are not tended in this ethically questionable experiment). Brood comb should NOT look like this – it's just irresponsible beekeeping which is encouraging the spread of virus's and parasites, the same thing the talk is on ironically.

  8. Fabulous! The mite is so dangerous! So Amazing and let's hope that the mite and pesticides can be controlled!

  9. "…makes it sound like we're manipulating and exploiting bees and the truth is we've been doing this for thousands of years." That sentence is what is wrong with us humans. The only humane thing to do is stop stealing their honey and help them not because we get honey and pollination of crops but out of compassion and because they are important to life on earth.

  10. So, are these mites new in the natural world? How is it that these mites are all of a sudden (since the 2000s really) causing colony collapse disorder – where the ENTIRE hive just completely disappears? I would say: good photography, but not the best science.

    The greater cause for concern is neonics, or neonicitoids which are now basically used almost ubiquitously to treat plants, even seeds and plants you get from Home Depot. To read more, see this:

  11. I like the experiment and the video is real cool, but  BUT!
    Let me get this straight…mixing up mite resistant bees that do not keep honey with regular bees that keep honey in order to come out one that resist mites but keep honey.
    So…if all bees lose the ability to keep honey?  Last large bee experiment was the killer bees release in Brazil…that worked out well…..

  12. Manipulating nature thats what we like to have a feel of control and power… Lets see what our attempt to outsmart something bigger than we r will do in the long run. We have domesticated animals to our liking in a manner which was considered fine for hundreds of years but now we want to go even deeper and closer to outsmart life itself. All I know is that what people design is not the same what was designed by the creator, god, evolution or whatever u call it. Just looking on what kind of people r breed in the cities, which can be considered as twisted as a infested bee hive in a sense, so much disconnected from what real essence of life is only shows how far from inner selves we r and too much superior and godlike we think we r while the truth is completely opposite.

  13. Ignorance is not bliss! Varroa is not the problem. Bees can handle varroa just fine if, in a nutshell, we breed them naturally, stop treating them with meds and chemicals, put an end to the use of neonicotinoids and (very, very important!) regress them to use what they naturally would use (before mongrelization by human manipulation): small cells. Anyone interested in this problem should look into the work of beekeeper Dee Lusby and her (now deceased) husband.

  14. It annoys me that this guy, and other environmentlaists say "Bad News" CONSTANTLY without actually explaining the EVIDENCE they found that the "Chemicals" used to protect the bees from mites are "Dangerous" in "The long term".
    It makes anyone who questions their claims to be HIGHLY SKEPTICAL.
    It's great they time-lapsed the video.  I think it's good to create alternative methods to solving problems.

  15. This video was uploaded on David Wolfe's facebook page on may 20, 2015. I believe this video has been freebooted onto Facebook with no credit given.

  16. Probably sponsored by Monsanto. What a pathetic photographer. This man doesn't love nature, although he pretend he does. It's a shame photographers or scientists fall for money and misinform the public with their own creativity.

  17. In other words if European science does not manipulate those bees, THE BEES are doomed! The same logic is used for the survival of the human species. Only the FITTEST should survive!

  18. The bees that are dying are those who come after Queen Bee has been inseminated artificially.

    Leave Honey bees alone, allow them to multiply in their own natural ways. Stop inseminating them artificially. Millions of years our nature took to give us this precious gift.

    But those pretending to know think than in a brink of a period of time inseminated Queen Bees are better breed than those that have been travelling in the line of time for millions of years untill now.

    Do not divide the colonies, allow the colonies divide themselves by their own natural ways, many forces are involved, we do not know all of them, It is the best ways to multiply your colonies.

    Human being want to organize Honey Bees, Stop doing that, let the bees be themselves, do not be intrusive, be very gentle, do not disturbe them.

    Inseminating honey bee artificially should be banned for ever, there are millions of reasons same as millions of years of natural lineage selection

  19. There is not need to investigate to control Varroa Mite.

    Popular Culture have the answer.

    I do not have problem with Varroa Mite.

    Also Honey Bees know how to defend from them but because we practice modern Apiculture they need help.

    Commercial Apiculture is the problem, is the way how the manipulate Honey Bees.

  20. The focus of this talk is deceiving. Varroa Mites are a concern and can carry disease, infecting and destroying an entire hive. However, they are only one of many parasites that can affect a hive. There is also Small Hive Beatles, and Wax Moth, Invasive species such as Africanized Honey Bees and Japanese Wasps. All wreak havoc on European, Russian, and Italian honey bees. That being said, many bee keepers are familiar with this issues and an increasing number are practicing natural or homeopathic remedies instead of harsh chemicals. The most dangerous challenge facing honey bees around the world is pesticides and the resulting threat of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). However, this wasn't mentioned at all. A few weeks of keeping a photographing bees does not qualify you to speak on a subject and inform others.

  21. Looking at my fellow hobby beekeepers losing their hives each Winter because they do not treat for Varroa, I've concluded that my bees deserve to live. I treat them with the proper organic acids at appropriate times (not during honey flow) and they respond by being healthy and happy. Hoping Varroa is going away is not an option.

  22. He said that it is okay for us to exploit bees just because we have been doing it for thousands of years. Thumbs down to this video, it is obvious that breeding them is not helping these bees at all.

  23. Aşağıdaki linke tıklayarak "ARICILIK BELGE BİLGİ VE HABERLER" Grubuna üye olabilirsiniz.
    BEEKEEPING INFORMATION DOCUMENTS AND NEWS GROUP – Tüm arı sevdalılarını grubumuza bekliyoruz. link:

  24. Let's treat the cause of bee declines–our mass-production, unsustainable food system and over-reliance on pesticides. Varroa mites are merely a symptom of the real problem: suppressed bee immunity due to human actions.

  25. Subhan Allah
    Agr aik tinka b kisi bnany waly k bger ni bn skta to phir itni bri nishani dakh kr b q log us k bnnany waly ko ni manty

  26. Nature loves diversity. Because we have mainly used European and African bees for honey production this has created an imbalance that nature is now reacting to.

  27. الانتهاء من مشكلة العثة عن طريق :

  28. وسنجد أيضاً في هذه الخلية أن عمر النحلة من بيضة لحين خروجها 16 يوماً

  29. Artificially inseminating a queen be is Rape and most abhorrent thing a human can do to a beautiful creation as a queen bee.
    In fact, one of the reasons bees are facing multitude of problems today is the result of 'selective breading' of queen bees.
    Rudolph Steiner warned about this back in 1923. Also watch this:

  30. The biggest threat to the bee industry is…The Bee Industry.
    Before you go off on me follow along and try to understand, Please.
    The reason we're struggling with keeping bees is because there are so few people who "keep" them. Oh there are tons of "bee havers" but we need people who can keep them without resorting to "the bee industry" for queens and replacement bees. The industry is set up that way. Hobby beekeepers struggle the most because for generations you could be a "bee haver" and actually collect honey. It was easy back then. NOW we have to actually be REAL beekeepers. The difference between a beekeeper and a bee haver is that the beekeeper relies on himself to create new colonies or queens. The "haver" just buys new ones every year". I'm talking about how a true beekeeper practices sustainable methods like doing splits and creating nucs. They save their frames with queen cells and stick them into a nuc thus creating a new colony. The new ones tend to survive until next year at a higher rate. So…If you're thinking about getting bees be aware that you have to dive in all the way to where you're using queen castles, nucs, and duplex hives to supply yourselves with the colonies that you'll need next spring to replace the dead ones. It works or else I'd never waste my time writing such a long post on youtube. I KNOW I AM RIGHT! For validation one needs to watch some very long videos by a man named Michael Palmer. "Sustainable beekeeping". If only every beekeeper used his methods…

  31. Asian honey bees clean themselves from Varroa mites. They also kill giant hornets that may destroy a hive of European bees in a matter of an hour. I keep Asian bees in Thailand – about 10 colonies.

  32. Great job. Having bees myself one of the main problems is people. Yep, good old fashioned efforts to try to help them really doesn’t. I use zero pesticides and other than taking honey and adding boxes I don’t bother them. They are on their own. They have to be strong to survive, and survive they do.

  33. Bullshit…this is fucked up and all for money. Honeybees wouldn't have mites if farmer weren't spraying them with pesticides and shipping them all over the country to industrial sized monocultures. We need to save the bees because they are dying by the millions. We don't need to save our relationship with bees. Bees dont need us.

  34. This man no nothing about bees 🐝
    Just read it in a book
    And verbal spew, called knowledge of someone else who doesn’t keep 🐝

  35. bees… you say…. interesting…. you closed bees in the box…. exploited them for thousands of years…. hmmmmm…. bees may be angry about that

  36. хуйня полнейшая и пиздёжь. пчёлы в сезон живут 3-4 недели,а он тут заливает про молодых пчёлок в первые три недели жизни. пиздабол

  37. I rescued a bee once. He was curled up on my porch and looked dead, but buzzed a little when I tried to move him. I nursed him with a paper towel damp with sugar water. I squeezed little drops into his mouth, then took the day to recover and chilled on the bed of damp paper towel until he had enough energy to lick the towel. Then he flew away for home. Bees are dying from lack of water, as well as issues with pesticides and genetically engineered flowers. He was going to die just because he was dehydrated.

    After my time with the bee, I started following the direction of putting a shallow water dish with marbles in it near my gardens. If the water is about halfway-three quarters up the sides of the marbles, the bees can land on the marbles and drink the water.

    It's a great idea for the summer time. We are getting more and longer dry seasons, when bees are most active in the summer, so if you have a space during that period, leave a water bowl out with marbles or anything a small insect or bee can land on. Change it everyday to avoid mosquito larvae from hatching in the water.

    It's also great to add a bird bath and a sugar water solution for hummingbirds. I don't have a garden where I currently live, but all of that is really helpful to all animals. Plus planting wild flowers, clover patches, and ground coverage will make your yard really entertaining.

    I had butterflies, bees, humming birds, cardinals, bunnies, toads, squirrels, blue jays, a groundhog and when the pool was closed, a pair of ducks that came back every winter and spring. Making your outdoor areas friendly to native wildlife improves the health of the local creatures and you get to watch them too. Win/win.

  38. I laugh at the numerous "bee keepers" in the comments. If you have less than 20 hives, you're not really a bee keeper.

    The people to ask these questions are the people that this makes up 100% of their income. They actually know what they're talking about because they actually need to know what they're talking about. They don't just get to Google something and go "that's nice" and call it a day. When we decide to vaccinate against disease or drug for varroa mite, we do so for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the health of our hives.

    Of course, more research is always needed, but to blanket statement claim that the "nature" methods you use on your 5-10 hives is an effective strategy for all beekeepers or the bees in general is garbage logic.

  39. Watch a 30 mins video in 3 mins. The BEST extension in google chrome store.

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