Showing of “More than Honey”, Phoenix, Oxford, Thursday 6:30pm

Friends of the Earth have arranged a screening of the film More than Honey  at the Phoenix cinema in Oxford this week to raise public awareness of CCD and other pollinator problems. I’ll be on a small panel for a Q&A for the audience afterwards.

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3 Responses to Showing of “More than Honey”, Phoenix, Oxford, Thursday 6:30pm

  1. solarbeez says:

    I saw this movie about a week ago. I was appalled at what seemed to me to be an exploitation of bees on a grand scale. My wife and I, determined to not be a part of the problem, decided to stop eating almonds. The owner of the bees that were pollinating the almonds LET HIS BEES GET SPRAYED before removing them!
    The movie version on netflix streaming did not have captions, so I don’t know what the German speakers were saying. There’s hope they were treating bees with more respect.
    I’m hoping someone who has seen the movie with captions will write a review.

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  2. Paul says:

    I saw a subtitled version. The first Swiss beekeeper in the film describes how his family have kept bees in that isolated valley, which is pesticide free, for many years. He raises the local black bee which is well adapted to the harsh winters, so when he sees a bee which looks wrong (too yellow) to be one of his he flicks it off a bush. He later kills one of his queens for mating with another race (Carniolans, I think) from over the mountain – he knows because her offspring don’t look like pure black bees. Later he goes to talk amicably to the guy with the Carniolans, who says they’re great, rarely sting, loads of people have converted to them. I reckon I’ll stick with the black bees, says the first guy.

    The bit with two women beekeepers is about raising queens. They are selling the queens by post. This is sort of a half way house between a very-low-intervention style like the old chap’s, and the super-intensive bee farming of the big American operation.

    At one point the old chap and his wife discover they have foul brood disease so the bee inspector woman tells them they must destroy the colony. They do this, and burn the frames, but it is obviously distressing to them.

    One subtext which was a bit too complex for the movie to go into, was “what’s the best race of bees?” This is an emotional topic, with some beekeepers thinking that it is best to blend characteristics; some prefer a particular race like Carniolan or Buckfast; and a few like the old Black bees which are probably best adapted to northern winters. Each faction thinks the others are misguided and ascribes downsides to the others which are probably very selective with the truth. For example, some people reckon black bees are very aggressive, but you may have noticed that the laid back Swiss beekeepers didn’t wear protective veils because their bees weren’t continually disturbed and in “defensive” mode. All they used was a cigar, and rather than swamping a hive with smoke (another thing which distresses bees) they were using it more to mask their own scent. Aggressiveness is as much about how you handle bees as genetics.

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  3. solarbeez says:

    Thanks, Paul, for the in depth translation. According to the “First Lesson in Beekeeping” book, none of the Apis mellifera are native to the US. The German Black Bee (Apis mellifera millifera) was the first one introduced around 1622. It was thought to sting a lot and prone to serious diseases like America Foulbrood. The author Keith S. Delaplane, admits to have helped the demise of this German Bee in the 1970’s by replacing German queens with ‘better ones.’ I wonder if this is the same ‘black bee’ as in the movie.
    Thanks again for the translations.

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