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The Strange Disappearance of the Bees

A film by Mark Daniels

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THE STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEES is a frightening documentary about how mass deaths of bees have recently swept all over the world. Increasingly each spring, beekeepers open their hives to find entire colonies wiped out. And beekeepers aren't the only ones who are worried. Bees pollinate at least a third of the world's crops. If the dramatic decline in worldwide bee populations continues, essential food crops could disappear, along with entire ecosystems.

Bringing together the latest scientific research, THE STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEES looks at the dramatic colony collapses in beehives around the world. There is no one smoking gun responsible for killing bees. Instead, a constellation of factors is stressing bees more than ever before: from parasitic mites that infect them with deadly viruses, to novel pesticides incorporated into the very cells of plants, and industrial operations that truck millions of bees all over the country.

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California's Imperial Valley provides an almost perfect storm of these factors, with 36 billion bees providing essential pollination for nearly a million acres of almond trees. When the trees are in bloom, the Valley looks like a lush paradise. But it's a pesticide-intensive environment in which bees are under such strain they need to be artificially fed—and even then, many perish.

But bees don't have to live under these conditions, and beekeepers don't need to adopt them in order to succeed. In Scotland, Willie Robson has become one of the country's most productive beekeepers, using natural methods to breed and raise his insects. Rather than breeding bees for docility, he encourages natural selection that boosts bees' immunity.

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Featuring stunning photography, THE STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEES takes us right into beehives and onto plants along with the pollinators. It also surveys the science through conversations with top researchers such as entomologists Dennis vanEngelsdorp of the University of Maryland, and May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as biologist Paul Ehrlich of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology.

There may be no easy answers as to why bee colonies are collapsing, but this documentary makes a convincing case that the current industrial agricultural model may to blame—killing off the very pollinators that it requires in order to survive. As Ehrlich puts it, bees have the task of keeping the world alive. If they go in sufficient numbers, we may well follow.

"Highly Recommended. THE STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEES is perhaps the most disturbing documentary to date about the rapidly declining populations of both commercial and wild honeybees. …a sound, methodical and scientific indictment of the industrial, modern agriculture complex and its profound impact on the health of the environment. …The reviewer highly recommends this title for academic, public, and school library collections."—Educational Media Reviews Online

★★"Highly Recommended. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the focus of this program. The overall tone of the video is serious but the seriousness is warranted because CCD is not caused by a single pathogen but instead is brought about by the synergy of several factors. …Excellent footage of varroa mites illustrates a honey bee parasite that can transfer viruses to bees. …thorough introduction to the complexities of CCD and the potential ramifications of continued decline of domestic honey bee populations."—Janet R. Mihuc, Paul Smith's College, Paul Smith's NY, Science Books and Films

"This is an outstanding addition to recent films looking into the phenomenon of disappearing honeybees. …filmmaker Daniels widens the scope to include wild bee populations in precipitous decline, including species extinction. Commercial beekeepers, forced to supplement the diets of the bees they deploy in monocultural agriculture (pollinating a specific food crop), realize they are working their bees to death. Still, wild bees adapted to a more diverse and nutritious pollen diet are dying, too. …Most sobering: scientific experts envisioning a world without bees or, alternatively, an agriculture pollinated by genetically engineered bees. VERDICT This documentary is very highly recommended for all audiences."—Library Journal

58 minutes / Color
English / English subtitles
Release: 2011
Copyright: 2011

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Agriculture, Biology, Business and Economics, Ecology, Economics, Environment, Environmental Film Festivals, Globalization, Nature, Science and Technology

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