Have you heard the buzz? The weather gets warmer, the days get longer and then they come. The bees seem to be all around you–or so it seems. Over the years, even I have noticed that there seems to be less and less bees. Markus Imhoof’s documentary More Than Honey (2012) aims to find an answer to why they appear to be disappearing.
Imhoof takes his camera crew all around the world, from California, Switzerland, China and Australia. In California, we learn about the business of pollination and how it affects the insects. The owners of bees migrate the insects across the country to wherever pollination is needed, whether it be California for almond season or the north states for apple season or back home to the east coast for honey production. The bees sometimes have to be stuffed up in boxes on trucks for up to two days.
During the drive, the temperatures get very warm and unbearable. They become ill and susceptable to disease and parasites. Nosema is a parasite that eats the bees from the inside out. Wax moths destroy the honeycomb. Foulbrood kills bee larvae. The number one killer of bees however is varroa destructor. Varroa Destructor is a mite that attaches to adult bees and sucks its blood. With open wounds, the bees easier targets for viruses, some of which cause deformed wings. Because of all the stress put upon the bees, more and more have not been surviving the trips. The bees that do survive are given sugar water infused with antibiotics to try to help them survive longer.
In Switzerland, we see a more natural life for bees. They don’t have to deal with pesticides that farmers in the United States and elsewhere use. But the bees still have to deal with problems from Varroa Destructor and foulbrood. It’s thought that the reason why even in the natural upbringing the bees still are encountering problems is that they are mingling and mating with foreign bees (those not from the same colony).
In China, they’ve used so many chemicals on the plants that there are virtually no bees at all in the entire country. Flowers are harvested there to collect and sell the pollen. The pollen is then sold to farmers and distributed to each and every plant by hand.
The documentary is brought to a conclusion in Australia, the last place where Varroa Destructor is not found. In Australia, scientists are studying the bees and their immune system, hoping to find a way to save the species.
Not only does this documentary have amazing information, told in a captivating way, but it also has beautiful cinematography. The images in this film are so clear and crisp, you really feel that you are one with the bees. You feel like you are the bee. Each shot is so up close and personal. It really makes you sympathize with the insect.
More Than Honey is an official selection by Switzerland for the 2014 Oscars Best Foreign Language Film Category. So hurry up and see what the buzz is all about. Get More Than Honey today.