More Than Honey
The world’s bees are disappearing. In a phenomenon termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), millions of bees across the globe are simply vanishing from their hives. Given that these insects are an elemental part of our food chain, pollinating over 80% of the world’s plant species, it’s a problem that could hold dire consequences for the human race. Markus Imhoof’s documentary More Than Honey investigates the issue, and asks to what extent CCD is a manmade ecological disaster.
Imhoof’s film meanders across the globe, stopping off in China, America, Australia and Switzerland to interview a wide range of beekeepers and scientists. It’s a charming, loosely-structured tale, hopping from one interviewee to the next, and for the most part adhering to the age-old maxim that showing is better than telling. While Imhoof does provide a voiceover (the UK edition is narrated by John Hurt), it’s an unobtrusive one, informing rather than hectoring.
While there is no Michael Moore-style rhetoric, Imhoof is obviously trying to get his message across, namely that Man’s domestication of bees is the root cause of CCD. As a result, questions of editing and authenticity do raise their heads. It seems to serve his argument very well that John Miller (an American beekeeper on an industrial scale) is the very definition of a capitalist loudmouth: upon hearing the buzzing of bees in an orchard, his first words are “That’s the sound of printing money”.
Unsurprisingly, the real stars of More Than Honey are the bees themselves, and their daily existence is captured in stunning detail by slow motion and microscopic cameras. The up-close-and-personal footage follows the insects from their mid-air conception to their demise, whether it be at the hands of sulphur gas or bloodsucking mites. Imhoof’s aim was to grant his audience a bee’s-eye view, and it’s an approach that really elicits a strong emotional connection to the six-legged honey makers. It will definitely make you think twice before swatting one.
More Than Honey succeeds as both a nature documentary and a call to action. A visually stunning ode to one of our ecosystem’s most important communities, it also achieves a gently informative voice, while never slipping over into evangelism.
More than Honey is released nationwide on 6th September 2013.
Watch the trailer for More Than Honey here: