Vanishing of the Bees, an intriguing new documentary about Colony Collapse Disorder, is back in town for a FREE one-night screening.
Date: Sunday August 21, 2011
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Location: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
10901 Old Cutler Road
Coral Gables FL 33156
Back in May, Vanishing of the Bees showed for only one night at the new, state of the art Coral Gables Cinematheque. And it was a good turnout — over 200 people packed the auditorium. Proceeds from that screening went to support Slow Food Miami’s school garden program.
Beekeeper John Herring and filmmaker Maryam Henein at the May screening.
The filmmaker, Maryam Henein, was present to introduce her film and answered questions after the showing. She was accompanied by John Herring, a beekeeper from Broward County, who brought a sample hive and various tools of his trade, who also answered questions about bees. Farmer Margie Pikarsky and interns Mike and Sadie from Bee Heaven Farm came with many boxes of local honey and wildflower bouquets for sale.
Vanishing of the Bees is a real-life mystery story which begins with two commercial beekeepers, David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes, who tell similar stories of how one day they came to check on their hives and found them inexplicably empty. They realized their problem wasn’t only with their hives, or happening in Southwest Florida where they were located. It was a growing, serious problem in 35 states and also in Europe. Bees were either vanishing, or their immune systems were succumbing to all kinds of pathogens. Populations were dying faster than they could be replaced, and nobody knew why. The film goes on a journey that follows David and Dave as they try to solve their mystery, and in the process they discover how they can keep their bees healthy and productive, and their beekeeping businesses alive.
Through the course of researching and making her film, Maryam became a passionate and tireless activist for the honeybee. Her love and concern is clearly apparent in the film, which weaved a magic spell around the audience that night. As the story unfolded, people were pulled in; and at one scene in the middle, you could almost hear a pin drop as facts built up and pointed to the most likely causes of bee die-offs. The camerawork is amazing, bringing you very close to slow-motion bees in mid-flight, and editing and animation are superb.
Support the bees
The film does end on a hopeful note, that it’s not too late for ordinary people to save the honeybee. “Colony Collapse Disorder is a wake up call,” Maryam said after the screening. “There’s a big abyss between the people who know and the people who don’t know. Every one of you is a worker bee” to get out the word and take action.
She mentioned several ways you can help the bees and support your own good health. The easiest thing to do is buy organic produce and local honey. (You can find both at local farmers markets.) Organic farmers are not allowed to use systemic pesticides or other dangerous chemicals that can harm bees. Most organic farms tend to have a happy mix of several kinds of plants that support bees, and most farms keep hives and sell local honey.
Mike and Margie from Bee Heaven Farm with honey and wildflower bouquets for sale at the screening.
Another simple thing you can do is avoid buying “honey-flavored” breads, cereals and other products. They are sweetened with honey blends imported from China. “Funny honey” is diluted with lactose syrup, high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners. It is also tainted with strong antibiotics and lead residues. Corporate bakeries — and the film named General Mills and Pillsbury — buy imported honey because it is very cheap. (Real honey costs a lot more because U.S. beekeepers can’t produce enough to meet demand.)
If you have the space, a fun thing you can do is plant a bee-friendly garden, with an assortment of plants that bloom throughout the year to attract pollinators. Choose low-maintenance native plants and wildflowers, keep fruit trees, or raise vegetables in your garden or in containers on your patio or balcony. Whatever you do, DO NOT use systemic pesticides! Those are the kind that are applied once a season or once a year as a soil drench, and “provide protection without spraying.” Plants suck those chemicals up through their roots, and all their cells and pollen itself become poisoned. Bees then gather tainted pollen, bring it back to their hive, and make themselves very sick from it, sick to the point of death.
Support the film
Vanishing of the Bees is a completely independent production, and it took a long time and a lot of money to make it happen. From researching and writing the script to the final edit took about four years to make, and it cost half a million dollars. (Just the editing alone took a year and cost a good chunk of money.) Maryam raised funds a little bit at a time, from donations and sponsorships, and they went toward paying film expenses. When she wasn’t filming, she supported herself at times as a waitress, and admitted that for a while she was on food stamps and maxed out credit cards to survive.
Maryam and her producers are making their money back with donations and DVD sales. Right now, they are running a promotion and selling the DVD on their web site for a reduced price of $14.99 for a personal viewing license. (They might also be selling the DVD at Sunday’s screening.) Maryam wants to get her DVD into schools. “Education is the beginning,” she said. “We are the generation waking up. The change is coming up in the generations behind us.” At the time of the May screening, she needed to raise about $12 thousand to develop a companion study guide. She is self-distributing her film, and is actively seeking venues for future screenings. The next Florida screening is in Tampa on August 29th.
Read Full Post »