This film is part of Free

Winged Workers

An extraordinary film made by amateurs showing a wide variety of species of bees in close up feeding from an equally wide variety of flowers.

Home movie 1949 6 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This is another example of the talent, dedication and imagination of Leeds amateur filmmakers, the Ramsdens. Made in 1949, not long after the end of the war, they have made a wonderful early wildlife film in Kodachrome colour observing, in remarkable detail for the time without any specialised equipment, the behaviour of many of the species of bees as they feed from flowers, open and closed. It may even feature one of the two species that have subsequently become extinct.

Betty and Cyril Ramsden made several wildlife films among their extensive collection. Their love of nature is particularly in evidence here as they show a sample of the 250 species of bees, mainly bumble bees – of which there are 24 species at present – but also a honeybee of which there is just the one species. Bumblebees are usually larger, and are always covered with dense hair, while honey bees – which prefer open flowers because of their short tongues – can be mistaken for wasps. Since the film was made large scale changes in agriculture has resulted in far fewer flowers, leading to a sharp decline in their numbers. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust aims to reverse this trend by encouraging more wildflowers.