Queen honeybees mate just once in their lives, within weeks of emerging as an adult from the little honeycomb cells in which they grew. Their mating flights may be the only time they ever leave their hive. But at least they seem to make the most of it: They mate in mid-air, at about 20 feet above the ground, with seven to 15 drones. Boom chicka wow wow.
More Than Honey, a recent documentary about the death of domestic honeybee hives around the world, includes the amazing bees'-eye video of this flight above. Filmmakers used remote-controlled mini-helicopters to capture the flight. They shot at 300 frames per second for every flight scene; the industry standard is 24 frames per second. They shot other bee scenes in the documentary, showing the insects moving around in their hives or feeding at flowers, at 70 frames per second, to show each bee's minute movements. And they used endoscopes, the cameras doctors use during surgery, to see inside hives.
More Than Honey is in theaters now in the U.K. It's already had its run in the U.S., showing in New York in June and in Los Angeles in August. It'll be out on DVD October 21 and available on iTunes October 28.
Update: YouTube commenter MojoPemi asked about how filmmakers shot this, so I added some more info. Thanks for the question!
I always wondered if it would be possible to armor domestic queens, so they could take over killer bee hives. If simply giving her a little extra temporary armor would allow her to defeat the killer bee queen and take over the killer bee hive.