Queen of the Savannah

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Natural World, 2011-2012 Episode 8 of 13

Duration: 59 minutes

The queen African honeybee rules the savannah - even elephants panic at the buzzing of her hive. This film recreates the life of the queen and her colony as they fight to survive. Ground-breaking close-up photography shows a bee-eye view of their world, from the queen murdering her sisters to fighting off giant invaders and eventually migrating across the savannah to the great Mount Kenya.

Accompanied by short film Safe in the City with Dr George McGavin on the growth of the urban beekeeper.

  • Filming a wild honeybee nest

    Filming a wild honeybee nest

    A 'making of' shot - filming a wild honeybee nest in Africa.

  • Making an insect drama

    Producer Verity White gives us the low-down on her experience of making Queen of the Savannah:

    Telling the biological story of the African honeybee was a mission we took very seriously. Honeybees are such fascinating creatures, and living wild in Africa they face more challenges and drama than most people would imagine. They’re like our British honeybees wild and dangerous cousins!

    We worked very carefully with african honeybee experts to construct a story based around one queen bee and her adventures, trying to include as many of her challenges as possible to paint a fair picture of what these bees have to face on a daily basis.

    Filming insects is always very delicate, and honeybees even more so because of the stings! But we worked with some real professionals out in Kenya, who guided us through the filming with their expert husbandry. We learnt so much about bee keeping – how to breed queen bees, and how much care needs to go into looking after a hive.

    I doubt our story is even half as dramatic as the real life of an African honeybee queen – but we’ve done our best to bring it to you with as much glory and excitement as possible!

  • Filming crew in bee suits

    Filming crew in bee suits

    The crew were working closely with bees so had to wear bee suits to protect themselves in case of stings.

  • Beehive fence

    Beehive fence

    The beehive fence protects crops from elephants. Hives are wired together in a ring around crops. If one hive - or the wire - is knocked, all the hives will swing and the bees will defend their hives.

  • George McGavin inspects bees on a London rooftop

    George McGavin inspects bees on a London rooftop


Verity White
Series Editor
Steve Greenwood
Executive Producer
Chris Cole


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