The Bee

Bees are bugs with a mean streak. They kill more people than any other animal except the mosquito. But we’re prepared to overlook that as they are so useful. As much as 30% of all human food is directly or indirectly dependent on pollination by bees. And even the bees’ terrible sting is useful, giving relief to swollen joints.

Produced by NHNZ

Bees are bugs with a mean streak. Equipped with small but potent stings they can be the insect equivalent of Genghis Khan, sweeping all before them in a stinging frenzy. They kill more people than any other animal except the mosquito. No wonder “killer bees” spawned a swarm of Hollywood horrors.

But we’re prepared to overlook the bee’s savage sting because this insect is incredibly useful. As much as 30% of all human food is directly or indirectly dependent on pollination by bees. Bees may visit 2 million flowers and travel as far as 55,000 miles to make one pound of honey. Honey is bee fuel, and a hive can get 7 million flight miles to one gallon of honey!

Humans also like honey, but it can be difficult finding it–unless you have a honey guide. This remarkable bird leads the hunters to a bees’ nest and is rewarded with a piece of the comb. Mead–a drink made from fermented honey–was perhaps humanity’s first intoxicating beverage and was also credited with medicinal effects. In fact it’s from “mead” that we derive the word “medicine”. Even the “honey moon” originated with the Norse practice of consuming large quantities of mead during the first month of marriage!

But perhaps most surprising of all, the bee’s terrible sting–the object of so much fear–is useful. It’s ironic that the sting that gives us such swollen welts, can give relief to already swollen joints.

Perhaps it’s time we got over our fear and learned to love the humble honeybee. Without it, life on earth would be very different. As John Lennon might once have said: “All we are saying, is give bees a chance”.

Episodes From This Series

The Cow

30 mins / 2001

The Bee

30 mins / 2001

The Shark

30 mins / 2001

The Whale

30 mins / 2001

The Parrot

30 mins / 2001

The Fish

30 mins / 2001

The Butterfly

30 mins / 2001

The Ram

30 mins / 2001

The Dog

30 mins / 2001

The Cat

30 mins / 2001

The Worm

30 mins / 2001

Who was the Real Lord of the Flies

2 Minutes / 2007

The Goldfish and the Emperor

2 Minutes / 2007

How a Moth Saved the Queen of England

2 Minutes / 2007

Dracula Was A Little Batty

3 Minutes / 2007

Are Butterflies the Messengers of the Gods

2 Minutes / 2007