Sunday, February 3, 2013

Let's Talk About Bees

Until recently, when I thought about bees, I would think honey. Or spring meadows. Or I would't think about bees at all. However, this changed when I watched the excellent documentary "More Than Honey" by Markus Imhoof, a Swiss movie director. The movie in equal parts explains the fascinating  social interactions in a beehive, stresses how vital they are to our food system as pollinators, and shows how our relationship to bees has changed. It was truly eyeopening to realize that in industrial fruit, nut and vegetable production (here is a list of all the crops bees pollinate), you also need an industrial scale of beekeeping - or at least, people think it's necessary. It's a part of the food production process you forget only too easily. "More Than Honey" also investigates some of the causes of the recent mysterious deaths of entire bee colonies - which seem to be linked to habitat destruction, the intense stress of being treated as yet another agricultural input with no regard to their social organization, and the widespread use of pesticides such as neonicotinoids. And it gives an ominous look into a possible future without bees in China and answers the question - who would pollinate our food crops otherwise? The movie is extremely well executed, with beautiful images, harrowing comparisons (think Swiss mountain beekeeper and Californian commercial bee-sinessman) and very limited subjective narration - it lets the people and images speak for themselves, which I liked a lot. Watch the trailer below or check out the movie's website for a preview!

Germany and France already banned some pesticides in the neonicotinoid family and recently, the EU Commission decided to recommend banning three poisons as well after more than 2 million people signed a petition in under 36 hours to take action. However, the final vote is still upcoming. 

For more information about the fascinating anatomy and life of bees, Stuff You Should Know just did a podcast on them based on this article

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