My uncle used to be a beekeeper in rural Western Quebec; large crates set on a family-owned stretch of land housed numerous colonies of honeybees throughout my childhood, and fresh honeycomb in a glass jar was always kept on the window pane in my grandmother’s kitchen, just beyond the reach of my short arms. A few years ago, while rooting around in the basement of my uncle’s old house, we came across boxes and boxes of jarred honey, still as edible as the day the jars were sealed. While his old beekeeping equipment has not been touched in years, every summer, hundreds of honeybees happily return to my uncle’s huge garden of flowers, berry bushes and fruit trees.
Most children – myself included, at the time – are terrified of honeybees and their notoriously sharp stings; however, a fascinating new(ish) documentary reveals the startling truth about these striped insects: they are disappearing at a rapid rate, and no one is certain why. The issue is showcased in Vanishing of the Bees, a 2009 documentary that chronicles the challenges faced by two commercial beekeepers as they struggle to keep their bee colonies intact in light of evident ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’. The film demonstrates how this crisis has affected beekeepers and the food industry at an international level, as the crops of most fruits and vegetables rely on these tiny insects for pollination. Ultimately, several hypotheses are formed to explain the exodus and mass death of the bees, and possible solutions are suggested, yet, the disappearance of honeybees in North America still remains a mystery. Unique, educational and eye-opening, this must-see documentary will eliminate all residual childhood fears you may still harbour towards these precious honey-makers.
Cinema Politica presents ‘Vanishing of the Bees’ on Monday, March 21 in Concordia’s Henry H. Hall Building (Room H-110) at 7pm.
~ Tyler Yank