Give bees a chance

I was going to start this post with a famous quote from Einstein that apparently inspired Taggart Siegel to make his film Queen of the Sun. But a quick search to find the actual wording of the quote suggests that he never actually said the words. So I won’t spread further misinformation (or at least misattribution). The fact is, nonetheless, that the bees are in trouble. One statistic quoted in the documentary, which I saw today at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, suggested that 40% of the food we eat depends on bees for pollenation. We should, therefore, worry about the clear evidence that the growth of mono-cultural agriculture and the parallel increased use of pesticides is causing the disappearance of bees in great numbers, both in North America and in Europe.

Queen of the Sun explains how “colony collapse disorder” is killing billions of bees annually, and also gives an insight into both commercial and community bee-keeping. It’s hard to believe the scenes showing 75% of the honey bees in the USA being brought by truck to Califonia each spring where they are fed high fructose syrup before being sent into the endless almond plantations to pollenate the trees. Since nothing but almond trees are grown for thousands of hectares there are no other plants to support a native bee population throughout the other 50 or so weeks in the year. So they’ve reached the point where bees are transported cross country by trucks!

Despite the scary message it delivers, it’s actually quite a positive film that serves to inspire rather than disillusion. It finishes by suggesting things you can do to help the bees, from planting bee friendly flowers and herbs and avoiding the use of pesticides in your garden, to buying organically grown food and even considering becoming a beekeeper yourself. (We’re still trying to get to grips with our balcony wormery, so the beehives will have to wait a few years I think. But I’d love to give it a try sometime.)