Feeling the sting
IQueen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us? documentary, not rated, CCA Cinematheque, 3.5 chiles What scares you? Terrorists? Global warming? The debt ceiling? Bedbugs? Donald Trump? That mysterious sound coming from the basement?
Well, make a little room for bees. And not bee stings, although the venom in the little critters’ stinger is similar to the stuff rattlesnakes use. But it would take hundreds of bee stings to do the same amount of damage.
What is seriously frightening is the absence of bees. Honeybees are disappearing worldwide at an alarming rate. And when you’ve had a look at Taggart Siegel’s documentary Queen of the Sun, you’ll have a pretty good idea of just how scary that is. This problem has been around for a while now. Interest in what is known as colony collapse disorder was high about four or five years ago, but the world provides plenty of other terrors, and the bee crisis lost its sting for a while. Siegel’s movie could move it back to the front burner.
Consider this: according to the movie (and other sources), honeybees have pollinated something like four out of every 10 bites of the food that we consume. A pertinent quote that is popularly ascribed to Albert Einstein has it that, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the world, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Queen of the Sun doesn’t use that quote, no doubt for the very good reason that Einstein may not have said it. Or at least if he did, he didn’t write it down.
But that doesn’t make the problem any less real. And bees are disappearing in massive numbers. The phenomenon of colony collapse disorder is cause for serious concern. Siegel offers a statistic that we’ve lost more than five million bee colonies (containing 50,000 to 60,000 bees each) in this country alone, and the epidemic has now spread to Europe as well. (In Australia and New Zealand, according to beekeepers interviewed in the movie, the phenomenon is still just a troubling bit of hearsay that has not yet reached their shores.)
Buzzed: beekeeper Gunther Friedmann