Ben’s Sunday Night Movie Recommendation: More Than Honey (2012)
Colony collapse disorder: it’s “true crime” for beekeepers. Disturbing, heartbreaking, a definite worry – this phenomenon is a mystery that plagues our thinking. A little over ten years ago now, thousands of beekeepers in America woke to find their beehives empty. Since then, the same mass exodus of worker bees from their homes has occurred across the world. This bizarre and concerning phenomenon, known now as colony collapse disorder (CCD), involves most of the worker bees in a colony disappearing and leaving behind a queen, food and some nurse bees to care for any remaining young. Although this issue has had other names before 2006 (disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease…), it was renamed CCD on this occasion when a drastic rise in disappearances became evident, not just in America, but across Europe. An epidemic for bees, this mysterious and devastating scenario has played out over and over again, in the same fashion, in unconnected places across the globe – the complete disappearance of billions of bees without an obvious predator, without bodies, without answers. And despite this not being a new story, it’s one that continues to fascinate and worry bee-lovers.
So, seeing as we are all trapped inside in Melbourne right now, I thought, what better time than to drop you a line and recommend a great documentary that won numerous awards in countries across the world back in 2012 and 2013. It was even submitted (yet not nominated) for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film! More Than Honey takes a look at the disturbing phenomenon of CCD. A Swiss film directed by Markus Imhoof, this documentary explores localised honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, China and Austria to tell a global tale of the greatest and most efficient pollinators on the planet in relation to this unusual, mass demise. With a strong and (in my view) valid critique on capitalist forces in apiculture, this amazing piece of art and journalism seeks answers to the multifaceted mystery and ethical conundrum that is CCD. What is it that weakens the immunity of bees that they die and disappear in full colonies without a trace? As the film’s maker remind us, it was Albert Einstein some fifty years ago who “insisted on the symbiotic relationship binding these pollen gatherers to mankind: ‘If bees were to disappear from the globe,” he predicted, “mankind would only have four years left to live.’” What better time than amid a global pandemic than to dig deep and think about how we will seek to make the world a better place (one bee at a time) when we emerge from our homes back into the world. Happy watching, bee lovers!