Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Bee Mating Ritual Caught on Camera


In the “bee highway,” male bees search for female bees to mate with. When this male bee spots a female, he becomes transfixed and does a bit of a dance.


- So this is the flower bee highway, right through here.

And this is where the males will search for females.

And the females might be here, feeding on the nectar here.

If the male comes along, and he's like, slams on the brakes, urr! (laughs) And then he will hover, and stare at her in a really appreciative way.

(bee buzzes) I've never, ever seen successful mating in this situation.

But I have seen them mate on the ground.

On his route, he also has little sunlit patches of leaves, which the female likes to sit on.

The female, there he is, the female, she might just be cleaning pollen off herself or something like that, and then the male comes along.

Same process.

He sees her. He's transfixed.

He's like, 'oh my god.'

(wings whoosh) (wings buzz) It's like there's a little dance.

He has to kinda hover round her, and he'll get closer and closer.

(bee buzzes) (bee thumps) He jumps on her, and he puts his, puts some legs around her.

And then, basically, then he gets up, and he has to, he gets his hairy legs out, and he starts waving them around.

But in real time, it's like about, you know, it's much faster than that.

In slow motion, you can see the tufts on his hairy legs.

He is gently, three times he brushes them on the female's antenna.

Then three times he brushes them on the female's antenna.

(bee thumps) It took me a month to discover what he actually does with those hairy legs during sex.

All I knew at the start of that was that the hairs are associated with scent.

That's about as much as anybody ever knew.


PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.