Review – Natural World: Queen of the Savannah BBC2

Review by Tauseef Khan:

BBC Two’s Natural World: Queen of the Savannah (29/03/2012) was a splendid programme on the life of the African honeybee. It had some of the best close-up camera-work of bees I have ever seen.

It starts in Kenya where in a qeenless hive is desperate to have another Queen. Two princesses emerge at the same time and then its a fight to the death.The survivor is the new Queen who rules the bee hive without question.

Too bad the  mating flight of the virgin Queen was not shown. Anyhow the programme then showed the honeybees fighting the bee-eater bird, humans, and yes elephants. The swarm section was very interesting to watch. I had no idea the African honeybee can travel so far as a swarm.

At the end, the Queen started failing and it was superceded by a new ruler which emerged from one of the new Queen cells.

The last ten minutes of the programme were about honeybees in urban centres like London and how we can save the honeybee. It was well narrated by entomologist and television producer, George McGavin.

One thing I liked – in the programme we saw bees in a Kenyan top-bar hive, a very low-cost hive in the plains of Kenya, and also the Beehaus, an expensive plastic long-deep hive on a London rooftop.

Overall rating 10/10 – Must Watch | iPlayer Link HD | YouTube Link

Interesting facts from the programme:

  • There are no wild honeybees left in UK countryside but bees are thriving in cities.
  • It is because bees have more flowers and gardens to forage on in
  • There are more than 50 billion bees on the roofs of London
  • Within M25 there are 5,000 beekeepers keeping honeybees
  • British Beekeepers Association membership has doubled in last 3 years to 20,000
  • A worker bee has visit 1500 flowers to produce 1 drop of honey
  • A jar of honey is the result of 10 million foraging trips by honeybees
  • It would cost roughly £1.5 billion a year to hand-pollinate our flowers with cotton swabs if bees died out

Other links: Telegraph review | Guardian review

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