The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

An urgent report about the on-going apocalypse in the beehives

with 8 comments


So you’ve got something that you think is smart or important to say, but how do you make people listen to it and accept it for a fact?

The easiest way is to claim it’s comes from Albert Einstein. Who dares to question a genius?

According to Wikipedia he did offer his views on a great many things, far outside of his own field in physics. But he also has been attributed a lot of quotes where the origin is unclear and you’ve got a good reason to be sceptical.

I recently saw an example of this type of vague Einstein quoting in a documentary about bees, More Than Honey. The film leads us to believe that Einstein once stated that if all bees in the world would die off, mankind would be extinguished within four years. A quick Google check doesn’t provide any sources whatsoever for this quote. On the contrary, the general view is that it’s unverified and most likely an urban legend. And when you think closer about it: even if it was a correct quote, how would we know that Einstein would be right about this since wasn’t a biologist at all?

I think Markus Imhoof would have been better off not bringing up Einstein, since all it does is to undermine the credibility of the film. And this is a shame, since – the potentially false quote aside – this is an engaging, enlightening and overall excellent documentary about a perspective of the world that I normally don’t pay a lot of attention to: the one of bees.

The sudden death of bees
With a beekeeper in the family, I was familiar with some of their challenges, such as the dread of the varroa mites and a new variety of “killer bees” spreading over the world, but I didn’t know how bad it was. A fifth of the bees of the world have died. Sometimes the reason is apparent: a disease or overexposure to pesticides. But sometimes they don’t know. One day when it’s time to harvest the honey they’ll open the beehive and find it in a post-apocalyptic shape, dead and empty.

The consequences of this go further than to our access to honey. The things they tell us about bees and flowers at school weren’t just sexual education in disguise. It actually matters. Bees are essential for fruit-growing, where they’re needed for their pollination services.

In China there are already areas where the lack of bees has led to that the pollination needs to be done manually, where people climb the fruit trees, applying pollen to the flowers with a little brush. Is this how the future will look?

A look into the life of bees
But More Than Honey is more than just a warning call for the bee situation. The filmmaker comes from a family that has kept bees for generation and you can sense the love and fascination for craft and the creatures in every frame. We get a thorough lesson in the life of bees, learning about how their collective mind works, how the bring up and kill off their own, depending on the needs of the hive and how they communicate shaking their hips in a manner that goes beyond what you see on a club dance floor a Friday night.

There are plenty of close-ups (and a bit of CGI) that give us the chance to get a good look at the bees, maybe a too good look for some tastes. I’m not particularly scared of bees, but there were moments of where I felt, if not nausea, at least discomfort staring into their eyes. There’s something truly alien about insects and there’s a good reason why they have served as a source of inspiration to so many horror movie monsters.

A Swiss documentary about bees doesn’t sound like a given box office hit and once again I have to thank my local independent theatre for giving me the chance to see a little film like this one on a big screen. But who knows? Sometimes movies get wings and reach further out in the world than you would have thought. Like the bees. If you ever see this one fly by, I suggest you to grab the chance and have a look at it. Even if they were wrong about Einstein.

More Than Honey (Markus Imhoof, 2012) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

May 21, 2013 at 8:05 am

Posted in More Than Honey

8 Responses

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  1. And all this time we were worried about zombies!!!! 😉

    Great write-up and fantastic title!


    May 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    • Thank you! I was at a loss in how to lure some readers to this obscure movie, I’m glad the title worked!


      May 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm

  2. Great write up Jessica. I find bees fascinating so I really wouldn’t mind checking this one out.

    • Thank you! If you’re a friend of bees, you ought to check this out. Unless you’re already an expert I bet you’ll learn a lot.


      May 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm

  3. Interesting! I missed out on this one and now I really regret that… will probably catch up on it now.


    May 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    • Yay! I’m glad if I can talk some more people into watching it. It’s both beautiful and interesting.


      May 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm

  4. “So you’ve got something that you think is smart or important to say, but how do you make people listen to it and accept it for a fact? The easiest way is to claim it’s comes from Albert Einstein.”

    Thanks for the tip! Lol. 🙂 Excellent review. This one is new to me, but I do love a good documentary so I’ll add it to my watchlist.


    May 22, 2013 at 3:54 am

    • Thank you Garrett! I’m glad you could take away something from the post, even if you haven’t seen or heard of the movie. I hope you’ll get the chance to see it at some point. It’s a good one.


      May 22, 2013 at 7:35 am

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