More than Honey

Alex Macbeth reviews a film in which Oscar-nominated director Markus Imhoof tackles the vexing issue of why bee populations are plummeting worldwide......

When filmmaker Markus Imhoff returns to visit his beekeeping grandfather in the Swiss Alps, he finds an unexpected and worrying tragedy has struck the elder Imhoff's colony: the bees are inexplicably dying.

So begins Imhoff's journey to uncover the plight of bees across the globe. Bees pollinate, and therefore nourish, we are told, 30 per cent of human food consumption. "If the bees ever die out, mankind will follow soon after," warned Einstein. More than Honey is Imhoff's ode to the species, in turn a wake-up call to humanity.

The documentary takes viewers on a journey through China, the US, Europe and Oceania. The images take us deep into the hive - drones are fitted with cameras that majestically capture the Queen Bee's daily mating sessions in mid-air. Bee traffic controllers monitor the flight of males who come to mate the Queen Bee, albeit at the cost of their lives. The sight of hundreds of Chinese workers pollinating trees provides a terrifying glimpse into a potential world without bees.

The powerful documentary questions the merit of artificially creating bees to clone colonies for profit. The rise of the crossbred Killer Bees, which only accept their own queen and kill clone queens, is both a positive and a negative, argues the film. "We've lost our relationship to the colony," says one keeper; "our husbandry of the hive" echoes another.

A haunting work that questions the free market's exploitation of bees.

View the trailer here.

Available on DVD here.


Alex Macbeth is a freelance journalist and editor based in Berlin. 

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