Clip | Natural Born Rebels | Episode 3 | The Mating Game - Bee Mating Frenzy Ends in Death

Episode 3, “The Mating Game” premieres Wednesday, May 9 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)

A group of male Dawson’s burrowing bees fights for the chance to mate with an outnumbered female. In their violent frenzy, they accidentally kill the object of their desire.

Transcript Print

[Narrator] This male Dawson's burrowing bee is waiting for a mate.

[buzzing] And he's impatient.

Beneath this baked earth, thousands of females have been dormant for nearly a year.

But winter has arrived and now they're stirring.

The male's wait is nearly over.

The problem is, he's not the only one here.

[buzzing] Male burrowing bees feverishly patrol ten thousand entrances to this colony.

[buzzing] Early in the mating season, they outnumber an emerging female hundreds to one.

[dramatic music] [insect chatter] The white face of an unsuspecting female.

She will mate once... then never again.

To get this precious prize, the males have to fight it out.

[buzzing] A ball forms around her as they wrestle for the chance to mate.

[buzzing] Males attack rivals with their powerful jaws and spiny legs.

Broken wings spell death.

The colony is littered with the bodies of battle-scarred bees.

And another is about to join them.

In their frenzy, these males have accidentally killed the object of their desire.

[ominous music]