Colony Looks at the Disappearing Honeybee
Are you afraid of bees? Do you suffer from apiphobia or melissophobia? If you do, you may choose to miss a beautifully made documentary about the declining honeybee population in America, Colony: The Endangered World of Bees, but then you’ll be missing an interesting and informative film that asks more questions than it answers, yet imparts much knowledge.
Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with bees. I love honey and fruit (I even eat my veggies), but I don’t want to be anywhere around bees. Several miles between the closest bee and me is ideal. But bees pollinate one-third of our fruit and vegetables, so their survival is important to me. It is also important to our survival—physically and economically.
When I think of bees and business, I think of honey. Beekeepers aren’t just in the honey business, though; a large part of their income is derived from pollination—driving their hives from one part of the country to another for the various pollinating seasons. Their business is totally dependent on the health of the bee colonies inhabiting those hives.
Colony explores why the honeybee—one of “the most resilient, efficient and industrious insects”—is dying off, complete colonies at a time. Also examined are the effects that “colony collapse disorder” has on beekeepers—individuals and families who earn their living through bees. As both hives and the economy collapse, these are tough times for beekeepers.
Directors Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell elevate Colony with dramatic cinematography, enchanting landscapes, and earnest storytelling. Even the scenes of the bees swarming and flying are mesmerizing.
While we may have been familiar with diminishing numbers of honeybees, the filmmakers drive the point home with an explanation of the impact a continued loss would have. Their candid portrait of those most immediately affected, “the beekeepers dealing with the crisis,” combine with dire predictions of the consequences of honeybee extinction, including the United States becoming totally dependent on imported food and the price of food skyrocketing, to reveal yet another environmental problem exacerbated by chemicals (insecticides). Docuramafilms will release Colony on DVD March 29, 2011.