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The Earth Day Buzz: Two Films About Bees

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 22, 2011 6:30PM

2011_04_qots.jpgFor the past few years, there has been plenty of talk about Colony Collapse Disorder, a drastic and sudden depletion in the number of honeybee colonies in North America. In 2010, for example, the USDA estimated total honey bee losses to be about 34%, an astounding number. What is currently a huge headache for beekeepers could have an out-sized impact on the food chain if left unchecked. Honeybee populations affect crop yields because the insects are responsible for the pollination of hundreds of the items you expect to see at the supermarket, from apples to zucchinis. The economic impact has been frequently estimated to be as high as $15 billion annually.

Whether it's naturally occurring diseases, the effect of insecticides, the result of the monocultures necessitated by agribusiness, or something else altogether, attempts to arrest the colony collapse has become a readily employable metaphor for our unscrupulous stewardship of the environment on which we depend. Just in time for Earth Day, two films in about the issue offer the opportunity to learn more about the issue. The Vanishing of the Bees, screening as part of the Do Something Reel Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Sunday, follows two commercial beekeepers as they struggle to maintain their bee populations and fulfill pollination contracts across the U.S, with narration by Ellen Paige. In Queen Of The Sun: What Are The Bees Telling Us?, opening April 29 at the Music Box, The Real Dirt on Farmer John director Taggart Siegel lines up a host of experts and interested parties for a frank appraisal of the crisis and optimistic look forward.