New documentary sheds light on the relationship between bees and food production, even as they hurtle toward extinction
Thanks to efforts to bring to light the endangerment of bees, most people have in at least general terms heard about how bee populations are dwindling and at risk of extinction. But what form that takes, its impact, and how to try to do anything about it are not readily apparent.
Featuring interviews with agricultural experts of all stripes including scientists, farmers, and beekeepers, the fascinating documentary film The Pollinators is an effort to address these questions and underline their critical importance.
While conversations about bee endangerment usually center around the obvious impact to the production of honey, this is only a small part of the big picture. As nature’s most effective pollinators, bees are a critical ecological phenomenon.
Owing to factors like the mechanization of farming, toxic pesticides, insufficient crop rotation, and deterioration of soil quality, bees’ relationship with nature has rapidly changed, even as their numbers continue to dwindle.
The practice of beekeeping has evolved from a relatively hands-off approach to a desperate, highly involved fight to try to keep them alive through constant intervention. Prior to viewing the film I didn’t really have much perception of what professional beekeepers really do aside from honey production — but there’s an entire agricultural industry centered around transporting massive numbers of bees between different farms and orchards as pollinating agents. They literally load up trucks with thousands of bees and drive them from farm to farm — but this practice faces increasing challenges. In this sense, the film’s title has as double meaning that can refer to both the bees and their keepers.
The film also steps back to analyze wider challenges to farming, and how rapid and intrusive changes to agricultural practices have created unsustainable conditions: a cyclical problem that’s killing off bees, which in turn causes more challenges with farming and pollination.
The Pollinators is not an enjoyable film, owing to its grim truths about ecological sustainability, but it is a critical one. It’s also an immensely interesting subject matter and superbly made, with lots of beautiful photography, often at macro level detail.
An easy recommendation not only for anyone interested in these topics, but as something to view, understand, and share with others.
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