Ask most beekeepers, and they'll tell you that opening up a hive is an intense, fascinating experience.
Willingly cozying up to thousands of flying, stinging insects, however, can sound a little intimidating to many of the rest of us. (This may be one of the reasons for my failure as a beekeeper.)
Given this reluctance to get too close, and given the world's evident passion for all things bee-related right now (just take a look at the shares on Jaymi's recent post about colony collapse disorder!), it's no surprise that Explore.org has just launched a live cam inside a honeybee colony in Bavaria, Germany.
The concept is pretty simple.
The camera tracks around the colony, which is located inside a hollow log, and shows the bees doing what they do—feeding brood, building comb, and making honey.
A second live cam shows the "landing zone" outside the colony, where bees can be seen taking off and coming back home from their foraging missions.
Of course unlike some live nature cams where there is lots of relatively uninteresting downtime, a focus on honeybees has one very distinct advantage—there are an awful lot of them and they are usually very busy, at least during the day. True, much of that activity looks very much the same for the untrained eye, but every now and then you get to see something dramatic.
In a world where nature deficit disorder is an ever increasing concern, you can look at these live cams in one of two ways.
For the optimist, they provide a much needed window into the hidden world of nature, and they remind us computer-bound citizens of the world that is out there. Perhaps they'll even encourage us to go out and explore for ourselves. For the pessimist, they're just another example of technocentric voyeurism taking over from a real experience in the great outdoors.