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» Screenjabber DVD-Review: Vanishing of the Bees

by Justin Bateman, published on March 7, 2010

A few years ago, American beekeepers noticed a worrying trend. It wasn’t merely that the amount of honey produced was falling. After all, most naturally produced foodstuffs have peaks and troughs. The difference here was that previously productive hives were apparently being abandoned for no reason. It wasn’t even as if the hives were full of dead bees – they were literally disappearing without a trace.

Not only was this disastrous for the beekeepers whose very livelihood was at stake but far more significantly the future of fruit, nuts and crops in general, many of which honey bees pollinate. Once the alarm was raised by Dave Hackenberg, a Pennsylvania beekeeper, scientists started researching what was clearly a widespread phenomenon and called it colony collapse disorder or CCD.

Theories abounded but Dave was certain at least that it wasn’t PPB – “piss poor beekeeping”. Studies began into whether it was the methods of beekeeping that was to blame but as there were no dead bodies to examine, evidence was virtually non-existent.

This is an important nature-based mystery, not only for the survival of the honey bee but potentially also to humans. But while it’s an interesting topic, there are only so many shots of talking heads and beekeepers and their apiaries that can be shown in an hour and a half before it all starts to get a bit tedious, at least from a visual perspective. It also doesn’t help that several shots are used more than once in quick succession.

Although there isn’t a conclusive answer to the mystery, which some may find frustrating, the most probable cause of CCD was my first instinct. Which, given that I know nothing about beekeeping, makes me wonder why that wasn’t the first place the beekeepers thought to look, or that it took so long to contact their international colleagues for their thoughts on the matter.

There are plenty of passionate people on show – Dave Hackenberg (not to be confused with his son Davy Hackenberg) is quite a character and you wonder how far they had to search before they found the brilliantly named Michael Pollan – but even for nature lovers this may well fall short of expectations. Perhaps with a bigger budget it would have been a bit more gripping but this is a diverting and educational hour and a half if nothing else.

EXTRAS ** Bee Losses in the UK – BBC’s Bill Turnbull interviews some British bee experts about bees and reveals that he also keeps bees; Beekeeping in France – a very short look at beekeeping in France; Honeybee Rescue – an even shorter section informing us that bees need not be exterminated; and the trailer for the film.

Rating: 2,5 out of 4

Source: www.screenjabber.com

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