×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

More Than Honey

Helmer Markus Imhoof uses state-of-the-art filmmaking to illuminate the world's bee crisis in the handsomely lensed docu "More Than Honey."

With:
With: Fred Jaggi, John Miller, Heidrun Singer, Liane Singer, Randolf Menzel, Zhang Zhao Su, Fred Terry. Narrator: Robert Hunger-Buehler. (German, Swiss-German, English, Mandarin dialogue)

Helmer Markus Imhoof uses state-of-the-art filmmaking to illuminate the world’s bee crisis in the handsomely lensed docu “More Than Honey.” Colony collapse disorder (previously addressed in “Colony” and “Queen of the Sun”) has decimated the bee population, with scientists still uncertain about the exact nature of the deadly phenomenon. Imhoof, who has a family history of beekeeping, traveled to three continents, interviewing apiculture players and examining the nature of the calamity as well as a possible solution. Surprisingly up-close images of bees at rest and in flight give buzz to an inescapably downbeat topic; fests and ancillary will be drawn.

There’s an apocryphal quote from Einstein that if the bee population dies, then humanity itself won’t last four years (Imhoof treats the Einstein origin as fact, whereas many experts think the attribution is phony). Whoever said it, the statement has merit: An enormous percentage of trees and flowers rely on bee pollination, and without the constant work of the little striped fellas, the world can kiss many of our natural comestibles goodbye. There’s a tragicomic scene of farmers in China hand-pollinating fruit trees in an area where the bees have all died; seeing them painting each flower with pollen recalls St. Augustine’s parable of the boy spooning water out of the sea. Sustainability is impossible.

What exactly is killing off the colonies remains a mystery, though scientists believe it’s a combination of things: Pesticides, shipping methods (bees don’t transport well), lack of genetic diversity and parasitic varroa mites all contribute to the problem, but as Swiss beekeeper Fred Jaggi discovers, even hives kept in clean Alpine air aren’t immune. Seeing hives either mysteriously devoid of inhabitants or littered with thousands of dead carcasses is a dispiriting spectacle.

At least a partial solution lies with so-called Africanized bees, those angry insects commonly called killer bees, which caused quite a scare back in the 1970s (apiarist Fred Terry remarks, “Americans are always afraid of being invaded”). Far more aggressive than their gentler honeybee cousins, Africanized bees seem resistant to colony collapse disorder, though the docu doesn’t make clear whether they could perform all the functions of their decimated relatives. Also absent is any mention of the effect honeybee decline has had on byproduct industries such as the lucrative market for Royal Jelly, used extensively in dietary supplements and skin creams.

Most striking in “Honey” are closeups of the bees in their hives, symbiotically working together in creating their new queen: Imhoof rightfully spends time detailing the extraordinary nature of bee social structure. Even more noteworthy are sequences of the bees in flight (unaccompanied by Rimsky-Korsakov), tagged by apiologists and whizzing through the air like a children’s TV character. Apparently Imhoof hired a “bee whisperer” to guide their path, and CGI background effects clarify movements while lending an almost cartoonish element to the picture.

More Than Honey

Switzerland-Germany-Austria

Production: A Frenetic Films Zurich (in Switzerland)/Senator Entertainment (in Germany)/Filmladen Filmverleih (in Austria) release of a Thelma Film, Ormenis Film, Zero One Film, Allegro Film, SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen/SSR SRG, Bayerischer Rundfunk, ORF production. (International sales: Films Boutique, Berlin.) Produced by Pierre-Alain Meier, Markus Imhoof, Thomas Kufus, Helmut Grasser. Directed, written by Markus Imhoof.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Joerg Jeshel, Attila Boa; editor, Anne Fabini; music, Peter Scherer; sound, Dieter Meyer, Bernard Maisch; sound designer, Nils Kirchhoff. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Piazza Grande), Aug. 10, 2012. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- TIFF Docs.) Running time: 95 MIN.

Cast: With: Fred Jaggi, John Miller, Heidrun Singer, Liane Singer, Randolf Menzel, Zhang Zhao Su, Fred Terry. Narrator: Robert Hunger-Buehler. (German, Swiss-German, English, Mandarin dialogue)

More Scene

  • Cara Delevingne attends The Trevor Project's

    Cara Delevingne Recalls Producers Saying That Being Queer Will Hurt Her Career

    Hollywood may be celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month with displays of the rainbow flag and lots of talk about supporting diversity and inclusion, but Cara Delevingne says there’s still work to be done. “Behind closed doors, we are still being told, as I have, by powerful Hollywood producers that we can’t make it if we’re queer,” [...]

  • Kiernan Shipka and Ross LynchMTV Movie

    MTV Movie & TV Awards: What You Didn't See on TV

    Many of the biggest stars in movies and television — including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kiernan Shipka, Sandra Bullock, Tessa Thompson and Brie Larson — came together to present and receive honors at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards, hosted by “Shazam!” star Zachary Levi. And while non-attendees are able to enjoy [...]

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Anthony Anderson LADF

    Why Anthony Anderson and Billie Jean King are Giving Back with the Dodgers Foundation

    Celebrities and athletes came together at the Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala to celebrate the team’s commitment to supporting youth and to catch a glimpse of the event’s headliner: Bruno Mars. Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss were honored at the fifth annual event, which raised over $3 million for programs benefiting Los Angeles youth. [...]

  • Shia LaBeouf poses at the premiere

    Shia LaBeouf to Host Birthday Fundraiser for Slauson Rec. Theater Company

    Shia LaBeouf is celebrating his 33rd birthday by giving back. The actor, who turned 33 on June 11, will host a fundraising concert later this month for the Slauson Rec Theater Company, a 10-month-old free performing arts program he co-founded in downtown Los Angeles. The night will also include a preview of the Slauson Rec [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content