If the Bees Die Off, We Go With Them

More Than Honey

Directed by Marcus Imhoof (2012)

Film Review

More Than Honey is a documentary investigating colony collapse disorder, the mysterious condition that threatens to wipe out the global honeybee population. As the great majority of our food crops rely on bees for pollination, this would also have dire consequences for humankind.

Scientists featured in the film report that colony collapse disorder has three main causes: insecticide (neonicotinoid*) poisoning, veroa mites and “stress.” They emphasize that the European honeybee (also the sole source of the US honeybee population) has been “domesticated,” just as larger farm animals have. This domestication reduces their stress tolerance: they can no longer tolerate two day trips across the US (in trucks) the way they once did.

More Than Honey includes some fabulous footage of bees doing their elaborate wangle** dance and struggling with mite infestation and after effects of pesticide spraying.

What I found most intriguing about this documentary was learning that Africanized honeybees may be the salvation of the domestic bee population. Commonly maligned as so-called “killer bees,” African bees are good pollinators and honey producers. They are also resistant to veroa mite.

* Since More than Honey was made in 2012, the EU has placed a total ban on neonicitinoid use.

**When bees return to the hive, bees perform a special wangle dance to communicate to other bees the location of a good nectar source.