More Than Honey (3 stars)

More than Honey

This doc exploring the importance of bees features remarkable photography but diffuse observations

Apparently Albert Einstein once said that, 'If bees were to disappear from the globe, mankind would only have four years to live.' In that case we should all be deeply concerned at the collapse of bee colonies all around the world: billions of bees, which we humans rely on to pollinate flowers and trees, are leaving their hives, never to return. Swiss film-maker Markus Imhoff comes from a family in which bee-keeping has been passed down between several generations, and his thoughtful documentary seeks to understand why bees are disappearing in such large numbers.

We meet the elderly Fred Jaggi, who practices apiculture amidst the beauty of the Swiss Alps, and whose small-scale working methods are contrasted with the industrial practices of John Miller, a Florida-based businessman, whose company transports hives by trucks around America to wherever they are needed by farmers. In northern China agricultural workers painstakingly hand-paint pollen onto fruit trees in orchards, which have been damaged by pesticides, whilst on an island off Australia researchers study aggressive Africanized bees, which appear less susceptible to decimation than other breeds.

There’s some remarkable macro-photography in More than Honey, which offers a bee’s-eye perspective of the daily toil within the actual hives, alongside images of the creatures themselves in flight. Yet the film itself, which includes the scientific observations of neurobiologist Randolf Meuzel, who perceives of a 50,000-strong bee colony as a 'communication network', feels slightly diffuse in its analysis. John Hurt’s narration for the British release also proves distracting, drawing one’s attention to the speaker rather than the poetic content of Imhoff’s voice-over.

Selected release from Fri 6 Sep.

MORE THAN HONEY Official UK Theatrical Trailer (featuring John Hurt narration)

More than Honey

  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • Switzerland / Germany / Austria
  • 1h 35min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Markus Imhoof
  • Cast: Fred Jaggi, Randolf Menzel, John Miller

Imhoof examines the world bee crisis, travelling to three continents looking for answers and solutions.