Remembering “The Life of the Bee,” Life Magazine 1952

LIFE Magazine Aug 11, 1952, and a showcase of paintings depicting life inside the hive

The cover, a black-and-white closeup of Joan Rice, announced her as “Robin Hood’s New Girlfriend”.  Also on the cover, a headline  announcing, “Farewell to Eva Peron.”  But what is not alluded to on the cover is the edit piece that you and I probably would have gotten the most delight out of reading: an arresting full-color photo essay titled, The Life of the Bee. Paintings By Microscope Reveal the Busy World Inside The Hive.  Let’s have a look…

“No human or animal society has been so perfectly organized as that of the honeybee.”  This page takes us explores the roles and anatomy of the Queen, the worker bees and the drones.

“Portrait of a worker bee, magnified 17 times, was painted with the aid of a microscope [by Rudulf Freund]

This painting shows the activities that go on throughout the year…from the laying of eggs by the Queen (top left) to the airconditioning of the hive (at hive entrance).  Also seen is an attack on an intruder mouse (bottom right) and a fight to the death between two newly hatched queens (bottom left)

In this photo spread, you see some of the threats to the hive: skunks, badgers, hungry birds and spiders. It makes one nostalgic for this time, which is well before the introduction of such threats as Varroa Destructor (first noticed in the U.S. in the 1980s).