Out now in cinemas across the UK, the Vanishing of the Bees is a new film that explores the world of one of the planet’s most important species.
Brought to the big screen by The Co-operative, it patiently uncovers the truly mysterious phenomenon known as CCD, Colony Collapse Syndrome, implicated in the mass disappearance of honeybees from hives across the world. Providing unparalleled insight into this occurrence, the documentary unfolds into a dramatic scientific quest, to illuminate the link between humankind and mother earth.
These social insects are big business and their industry, worth billions, is now teetering on the brink. In America, commercial beekeepers transport the hives around the country, so that the bees can pollinate apples, blueberries and cranberries. Since CCD has decimated the native population, importing the insects from Australia has become the norm.
A prime suspect for the cause of CCD is the introduction of a relatively new class of pesticide, called neonicotinoids. One of these, named Gaucho’, is now banned in Italy, France, Germany and Slovenia but not in the USA or UK.
Independent studies of affected hives found that bees were exposed to as many as 47 different artificial chemicals. The accumulation of these toxins is thought to be caused by a complex synergy of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, combined with the industrial agriculture practice of growing only one crop. While pesticides interfere with the ability to navigate home to the hive, monocultures reduce the diversity of food available for bees to thrive.
The film warns that if foods such as broccoli, cherries, onions, melons and sunflowers do not get pollinated, our diets will consist of lots of rice, wheat and corn ñ all crops that corporations have a large stake in. It can be no coincidence, the film shows, that bee keepers who isolated their hives from sprayed crops have reported no losses.
Following the story across the globe for two years, the production provides tangible solutions and will inspire us to make changes for the good of mankind, honeybees and all life on the planet. ‘It encapsulates grand issues about our ecology, agriculture, economy and politics in a mystery about the amazing honey bee,’ say film-makers, Maryam Henein and George Langworthy.
The film reveals that there is hope for these insects, as people practice more sustainable approaches. Biodynamic and organic farming are on the rise and a host of alternative beekeeping methods are coming into fruition.
To help the population ourselves, we can plant native flowers, trees and shrubs in our gardens that are bee friendly, as well as learning about how to establish hives in our gardens. When we take care of the bee, we take care of ourselves.
Bees pollinate a third of the food
we eat, contributing £200 million
per year to the British economy
Photo: © Dogwoof