If you haven’t heard about the film The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees by Mark Daniels, I recommend you go along and view it. It’s an award winner, with stunning photography, and carries a very important message. It has been showing in Europe since 2010, and is now showing in the US, so why not ask your local library or university to arrange a public viewing?
Mark Daniels kindly agreed to answer some questions about the making of The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees,
who features in it, and what he learned about bees along the way.
There are some really inspiring answers here, and a trailer for the film
at the bottom.
1. Why did you decide to make The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees?
2. What have been the major challenges (if any) in producing and bringing this film to a wider audience? (Can the public help?).
The major challenge was time (which of course means the money to buy
time). When you’re making a film about a “hot,” newsworthy subject
there’s a tendency for producers and broadcasters to want to get
something out quickly. This is a very complex subject. It took a lot of
research and travel. I wanted to retain the complexity, not gloss it
over, so the project required a lot of time. In the end it was almost 3
years of work. I really appreciate the fact that my producers and
broadcasters allowed the film to develop fully.
film actually had the largest audience for any documentary on ARTE (a
French/German public TV station) in 2010 (maybe a film about Marilyn
Monroe did a little better). It’s been shown at a lot of bee-related
events in France, Germany, Italy and England. I would very much like the
film to be seen by grassroots organizations and interested people all
over. The big problem is that I’m currently living in Europe, so it’s
difficult for me to travel with the film everywhere I’d like it to be
3. Where has The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees been shown publicly to date, and where will it be shown next?
4. How else can people, who have not seen the film, get to view it?
The dvd’s are not currently available for individual purchase, but
people could ask their local library to organize a screening. Hopefully
commercial dvd’s will be available soon.
The film is an award winner, and reportedly contains stunning
photography. Where was it filmed, and what in your view, are the most
some of the best bee close-ups were filmed in my garden in Normandy. I’d
never really looked at the bees in my garden before. We have a good
number of different species and since I am not a very committed gardener
we have a lot of flowering weeds and wildflowers for them to feed on.
lavender fields of Provence are very striking. They are on a rather
high plateau ringed by mountains. A little lower there are acres of
sunflowers. But the most beautiful landscape is also the most deadly –
the almond orchards of California. Some 700,000 acres of almond trees
all bloom at the same time. Pink and white petals drift through the air
like snow. But once the bloom is finished there is nothing for bees to
eat. Consequently millions of bees are trucked in and out to provide
“pollination services.” Parasites and viruses are spread to bees from
every part of the country.
6. You interviewed a number of key scientists. Who did they include?
Our main advisor was Dr Bernard Vaissierre at INA in Avignon, France.
He’s a leading researcher in pollination. It’s part of his collection of
bees that I used in the title sequence. Dr Vassiere studied in Texas,
so he’s very familiar with the American agriculture industry and bee
practices in the States. Yves Lecompte and Luc Belzunce are also
leading bee specialists in France. A very well known specialist in bee
learning is the German scientist Randolf Menzel. In the film he tracks
bee flight by radar. In the US Dennis vanEngelsdorp and Jeff Pettis are
very involved in the CCD question, as are Maryann Frazier and May
Berenbaum. Paul Ehrlich co-founded the discipline of co-evolution, and
Gene Robinson led the team that decrypted the honeybee genome. The film
also includes several of Canada’s leading bee researchers – Laurence
Packer, the leading expert on wild bees, Mark Winston and Peter Kevan.
7. Did the scientists seem to indicate to you the main reason for colony collapses and the “strange disappearance of the bees”?
8. Was there anything in particular that really astounded or surprised you during the making of the film?
My Comment on The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees:
I especially appreciate Mark's determination to represent a complex
issue to the public. The fact is, some things, despite being
complicated, DO need to be communicated to the people.
The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees is great for doing that.
I have long felt that the reason these kinds of bad situations are allowed to continue, is simply this:
share many of Tom Theobald's frustrations (see links below) - but
eventually, when we cut through ignorance and the wider public are aware
of what is going on, at some point, there is a tipping point, and
things HAVE to change for the better.
We need to hurry up to save our bees before it's too late. So please tell others about the film, The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees!
The Trailer: The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees
Why not ask your University or Library to screen a viewing of The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees?
Alternatively, perhaps you could arrange for community groups to get together and acquire The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees - in this way, the groups could share the viewing and the costs?
Learn more about The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees from Icarus Films (opens a new window).
Go from The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees to these links:
Bees And Neonicotinoids
What Can I Do To Help The Bees?
Tom Theobald Comment On EPA Clothianidin Scandal
Dan Rather Reports
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"I made a strong effort not to make any suggestions that were not scientifically supported. The fact is that more and more evidence is pointing towards neonicotinoids. Even the catch-phrase “multi-factoral” assumes agricultural chemicals to be one of the factors."
"Stop using chemicals in your garden. In the US more chemical tonnage is used on lawns and golf courses than on crops. Even people with apartments routinely use pesticides on their window boxes, killing every butterfly that visits."
"Plant flowers, let weeds grow, ask your town not to cut the grass along roadways too often."
"On a longer term, society has to understand that cheap food is not really cheap – it’s destroying the biosphere – just displacing the costs to the future. Demand food grown in a more responsible manner and insist on proper labeling of foods so that real choices can be made. Support local farmers by eating things in their season – and it’s good for you."