In an age of individualism, sometimes we are more connected than we think. And the same is true for everything on the planet. Rutendo and Sebastian explore the question of how and why we define an individual, a colony, or a group, across the animal kingdom.

Lisa Kirkendale was astounded when she came across the longest organism ever discovered, a siphonophore off the coast of Australia. Composed of several semi-independent but constantly connected parts known as zooids, could it be seen as a colony of many creatures, or just one?

Richard Youell, a beekeeper and sound recordist, uses innovative techniques to record directly inside a beehive, an almost impossible task because of bees’ natural inclination to protect themselves from a microphone, by covering it in wax. After a lot of time and patience, he has managed to record the unique captivating sounds of the battle between potential queens, a behaviour known as piping, where there can be only one victor.

And we hear from Australian rockers King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, about their efforts to reduce the impact of their packed touring schedule on an increasingly fragile ecosystem.


The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.

This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.

The researcher was Seb Masters.

The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.

Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.

The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.

Special thanks to:

Richard Youell for sharing his insight and sound recordings from within a beehive.

Interviewee Lisa Kirkendale from the Western Australian Museum.

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