Honey bees are such an integral part of our ecosystem — they pollinate 1/3 of our food crops — yet we don’t understand all that we should about their life cycle, or what has been threatening them in the last few years.

To explore the recent problems experienced by these bees, photographer Anand Varma worked with National Geographic and UC Davis’ Bee Lab to raise and document bees in his Berkeley, California backyard. One of the results: This video that shares the first 21 days of a worker bee’s life in 64 seconds, from bee egg, to larva, to emerging adult. (Updated video, now with narration.)

Varma talks more about his experience in the TED Talk below, and discusses some current research being done to combat another big threat to hive health — mite that preys on baby bees in those first 21 days.

Related reading: For a Biologist-Turned-Photographer, a Beehive Becomes a Living Lab, more about the honey bee life cycle, and at The New York Times, read Teaching Children to Love Bees, Not Fear Them.

Related watching: Wild bees might also pollinate our plants & crops, The Hidden Beauty of Pollination, and why do honeybees love hexagons?

via Colossal. Thanks, @mamagotcha.

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