Bee Movie

Bee-rilliant. Really enjoyed the film: the colours, the animation, the characters..especially the depiction of a hive as a classy accomodation complex/cool city/big corporation workplace.

When it comes to science though, which plays a crucial role for lots of the issues touched upon in the movie, it seems a bit off. Opening scene is especially disapointing, it states something along the lines of “All the laws of nature say bees cannot fly” Wrong. This gets re-iterated later on in the film when Barry, the lead character, says he doesn’t care about what we humans think we understand about bees-he can fly even though we think in principle he shouldn’t be able to (according to our science). Well, wrong again, Barry.

The problem is exposed in the scene where Barry attempts to fly a plane after accidentally knocking down both of the pilots..He says something along the lines of:“Planes are just like bees, only bigger.” Well, no they’re not. Planes don’t flap their wings, bees do, and do so very quickly. It is the wing movements that allow the bees and other insects to fly. The so called unconventional aerodynamics of insect flight result from various movements of the wings.

Of course, a simple calculation modelling bee on a plane with stationary wings will tell you bees are too fat to fly with their tiny wings. Yes, if they flew like a plane, not moving their wings. But they don’t-they do move their wings. Scientists do understand how insects fly and bees are not too big for their wing size to fly-it’s a misconception.

Then, all the bees in the film have 4 legs. In real life it’s 6. All the nectar collecting bees in the film are males. In real life male bees do no work-females collect all the nectar and pollen. In film a bee gets one job for a lifetime (“they work you to death”). In real life bees progress through various jobs as they mature. Also, the film doesn’t mention production of propolis which is used in human diet and cosmetics; it’s too honey-centred.

Then they are the miraculous scenes of pollen bringing back to life all the flowers and dying plants…boy, will kids who see this movie struggle with their botany classes.

To be fair there were some correct bits such as that all bees are cousins (not strictly correct but on the right track), they produce honey and collect pollen, they pollinate flowers, sort of have special vision to detect flowers, cannot fly in the rain, their school years are turned into days in the movie (Barry spends three days in high school, three days at university) which would be more accurate given the short life span of a bee.

It’s funny how this film has an amazing potential to actually teach some biology to viewers without negatively affecting the storyline, yet no-one seemed to think it would be a good idea to make the science accurate. In stark contrast to this is the graphic novel series for kids Clan Apis which likewise describes adventures of a bee hero-this time a female, Nyuki, but with the engaging story also delivers biology to the readers.

Mićo Tatalović

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