Friday, July 5, 2013

A look at the imperiled world of bees

Swiss filmmaker Markus Imhoof sets off a variety of alarms with his amazing documentary More Than Honey, a look at the endangered life of the world's bee population. To provide context, the film introduces us to an industrial-level honey producer who struggles with major market forces and a Swiss beekeeper from Imhoof's family who clings to older ways. As the film progresses, Imhoof takes us to California, where we learn about the importance of bees to the state's almond crop. We also visit China, where we meet workers who are forced to pollinate flowers by hand because bees have all but vanished from local life. This pro-bee documentary may even change your mind about African "killer" bees, creatures that might be doing more for humans than you previously knew. Whatever you think about the film's cautionary tone, you should be more than wowed by the amazing work of cinematographer Jorg Jeshel, who not only takes us inside hives but also captures bees in flight. If Imhoof wanted to renew our respect for bees, he certainly succeeds, bringing us closer to hives, explaining the ways in which colonies are organized and making us appreciate the vital role bees play in nature. He also emphasizes that a combination of harmful factors -- more than a few of them man-made -- could wind up stinging us in ways that more of us need to understand.

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