When National Geographic asked photographer Anand Varma to shoot photos of bees for a story, he did what any photographer wouldn’t do: He started keeping bees in his backyard to better acquaint himself with the creatures. Kind of like a photographer’s version of method acting.
But by the looks of things, Varma became pretty taken with his apian muses, going beyond the call of duty to try and really figure out the mysteries of the hive. And in particular, what’s going on with Varroa destructor, the bee-decimating parasitic mite with a name like a Harry Potter spell.
We are reliant on bees for our food – they pollinate one-third of our crops – but between pesticides, disease, habitat loss and the biggest threat of all, according to Varma, the Varroa mite – they are disappearing at an alarming rate.
With this in mind, Varma teamed up with the bee people from UC Davis to figure out a way to film life in the hive, and what they’ve come up with is a miraculous glimpse of the bees’ first 21 days. From egg to squiggling larvae to bona fide buzzing bees; mites included.