Bill Turnbull investigates one of the biggest mysteries in the British countryside: what is killing our bees. It is a question that generates huge controversy. Changes in the weather, pesticides and even a deadly virus have all all been blamed. It is a question that Bill is all too familiar with as a beekeeper himself. He meets the scientists who are fitting minute radar transponders on to bees to try to find answers.
In the final film, he reflects on the dramatic impact that humankind has had on the natural world within his own lifetime. He tells the surprising and deeply personal story of the changes he has seen, of the pioneering conservationists with who he has worked - and of the global revolution in attitudes towards nature that has taken place within the last six decades. In a journey that takes him from the London Zoo to the jungles of Borneo, Attenborough reveals what inspired him to become a conservationist. He remembers classic encounters with mountain gorillas, blue whales and the giant tortoise, Lonesome George. These are all characters that have helped to change public attitudes to the natural world.
We’ve heard that bees are disappearing. But what is making bee colonies so vulnerable? Photographer Anand Varma raised bees in his backyard — in front of a camera — to get an up close view. This project, for National Geographic, gives a lyrical glimpse into a bee hive — and reveals one of the biggest threats to its health, a mite that preys on baby bees in the first 21 days of life.
Watching the fascinating display of leafcutter ants at the Natural History Museum in London is one of my favourite ways to while away a few hours, but David Attenborough is operating on a much grander scale here in the last in the series. In Argentina he observes some cousins of the leafcutters who are part of a community so vast it spans an entire continent. It’s one of the mandible-dropping facts in a look at one of the key inventions of arthropods: colonies. From termites and honey bees to the leafcutters, it seems that if you want to get ahead, you move to the big city.