Bees are dying in their millions. And the consequences of the depletion of bee colonies go much further than having to spreading honey a little thinner on your toast. Oscar nominated director Markus Imhoof travelled to Switzerland, the U.S., Australia and China to show how desperate the crisis is becoming. The result is stunningly-shot More Than Honey. A documentary which takes great pains to remind viewers that a shocking “one third of our food would not exist without bees.”
Imhoof has taken the novel approach of filming much of the action from a super close-up 'bee's eye view.' We get close-ups of a queen bee emerging from her cell, of lavae being placed in cells by breeders and of bees doing their famous waggle dance. The most beautiful shots – although not, perhaps, for fans of 1991 film My Girl – are of the creatures swarming around and zipping through the air at top speed.
Beekeeping has, by necessity, evolved in very different ways all over the world. In the Swiss Alps little has changed over the centuries, in China bees have died out to such an extent that pollination is now carried out by armies of people with little pollen-laden cotton buds moving from flower to flower. Having to do something similar in the UK would cost the economy £1.8bn a year. We need to protect our little yellow and black striped friends – although after 90 minutes of footage, we're very aware of the problem but still not quite sure what Imhoof wants us to do to help.
More Than Honey manages to highlight the worrying state of the bee world in a visually breath-taking way without ever sounding preachy, making it the perfect introduction to the UK Green Film Festival. But visitors to Hackney Picturehouse for the festival's opening night on June 1 were also treated to a panel discussion of bee experts who gave some more concrete examples of how to help. Plant wild flowers, sign petitions, give money to Friends of The Earth... and then check out the UKGFF's other films to make sure you're informed about what you can do to reduce the bullying power of multinationals (Big Boys Gone Banana's!*), help ski resorts cope with global warming (Peak), and get better at recycling (Trashed).