I recently watched three different movies on Netflix and Hulu about bees. I’d heard about the colony collapse disorder but I didn’t know much about it. I also didn’t know a lot about how honey bees are raised and handled. While there’s still a lot more to learn, this movies gave me a good introduction to bees and what’s going on with the bees.
The first movie I saw was More Than Honey, a 2012 Dutch movie about bees. While I ran into a little trouble with some of the subtitles, this film was well made, moving all around the globe to show the state of bees in various countries. The most disturbing part was seeing workers in China hand pollinating trees because all of the bees in the area are dead. Only in China would there be enough labor forces to be able to do this.
The next was Queen of the Sun, a 2010 release. When the movie started with a woman dancing with a swarm of bees on her torso, I almost stopped watching it. It looked like it might be a bit too “fringy” and not scientific enough for my taste. But when one of the people interviewed was Michael Pollan, I relaxed a little. I still have some question about some of the scientific claims of this movie but I’m glad I saw it.
The final movie was Vanishing of the Bees, a 2009 movie. A bee keeper from this part of PA who first reported colony collapse was prominently featured and gave this movie a “hometown connection” for me. The cooperation of bee keepers around the globe was also shown which showed that this problem is being addressed from a variety of perspectives. It was a well made movie.
What I realized after watching all of these movies is that honey bees are facing a lot of stress. They’re shipped all around the country on the back of tractor trailers to pollinate crops in different areas of the country. They face an onslaught of diseases and mites. The queen bees are artificially inseminated and replaced in hives long before they need to be. Hives are “fed” high fructose corn syrup. And then there’s the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that seem to be affecting bee behavior and contributing to their death (I’m researching this for another post).
While all of the movies show the problems that bees are facing, there’s also some hope in each of them. The specific cause (if there is just one) of colony collapse is still being investigated but a lot has been learned about bee health because of this problem. Also some are finding ways to raise bees that addresses many of these issues and it appears to be working.
If you’re at all interested in bees and their current state of health or disease, these movies are a great place to start to learn about these amazing insects.