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More Than Honey

More Than Honey

By Patrick Samuel • January 13th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
MORE THAN HONEY (DOCUMENTARY)
Zero One Film

Original release: November 8th, 2012
Running time: 95 minutes

Writer and director: Markus Imhoof

More Than Honey

Have you ever noticed how sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the biggest impact? Whether or not you chose to believe this, the fact remains that if it wasn’t for those tiny steps in creation and evolution we wouldn’t be here today, and maybe that’s not such a good thing, after all, just look at the damage we’ve been wreaking on our poor little planet at a rate that’s now beyond our comprehension. To the ever-growing list of species we’ve managed to wipe off the face of the Earth in the past 100+ plus years, it won’t be long until we can add the honey bees.

In just a short space of time bee colonies around the world have significantly fallen and no one knows why. We’re not just talking about a few hundred bees, we mean billions of bees. No bodies are found in the immediate surroundings, and no visible predators can be located. In some places 50% of bees have vanished, while in others it’s estimated that around 90% have either died or just haven’t returned. While this might not seem very important at first it’s actually an epidemic that could have devastating effects, not just for us as a species, but for the planet as a whole.

More Than Honey, a documentary film by Swiss director and writer Markus Imhoof, offers us a remarkable look into the daily lives of the honey bees and their keepers, as well as what it’s like to work on a honey farm, especially during these troubling times. With John Hurt narrating, Imhoof’s film captures that fine balance between nature and business and shows how we’ve managed to tip the scales so disastrously with our industrious ambitions.

Among those we meet is Fred Jaggi, an aging man who’s followed in the family traditions of bee-keeping and has never strayed from those long-held customs. He keeps bees of a local black breed that are known for producing more honey and sometimes has problems with the yellow bees that belong to a beekeeper in the nearby valley. The yellow bees have a tendency to infiltrate the black bee colonies and the result of this is that one of his queens was fecundated by a yellow drone and has been laying eggs bearing little half-breeds. We see Fred swiftly dealing with this, but further along there are bigger problems when he discovers the same epidemic that’s been wiping out the colonies has now reach his secluded haven in the alps.

More Than Honey

There’s also American entrepreneur John Miller. His way of life and the way he runs his business contrasts vastly with Fred’s, and while he puts himself in charge of millions of bees to pollinate orchid fields, he has to contend with the same fate as other bee keepers around the world – the mass disappearance of the little workers. However, John’s approach and outlook is clearly more money orientated than Fred’s but a film like More Than Honey does a good job in showing that as different as we all are, we’re all facing the same problem.

Another remarkable moment in the film comes when Randolf Menzel, a neurobiologist from the Freie Universität of Berlin, shows us using a camera attached to one of the bees that they are capable of making their own decisions as well as following the hive mindset that they’re so well-known for. While the bees will always do what best for the hive as a whole, they can also scout for the best locations and inform each other where to fly to, as well as decide against other options. Still, for all the technology that’s available to us, why is it we’re at such a loss to explain this epidemic?

Should we blame pesticides or even medication used to combat them? Maybe look at parasites such as varroa mites? New viruses? Travelling stress? The multiplication of electromagnetic waves disturbing the magnetite nanoparticles found in the bees’ abdomen? Or could it be a combination of all these factors? Or something else entirely that we haven’t even considered yet? More Than Honey might not give us all the answers, but it’s certainly asking the right questions.

More Than Honey

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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