beekeepers bees and agriculture pollinator threats

More Than Honey—a film about bees and bee people

Of the many on-going bee projects across the globe, one in particular has caught my attention. The project, a documentary film entitled More Than Honey, will be “a film about bees and beekeepers, about pollen and honey, about biology and business.”  The film is an international endeavor directed by Markus Imhoof from Switzerland and co-produced by Ormenis Film (Switzerland), Thelma Film (Switzerland), zero one film (Germany) and Allegro Film (Austria).

Although the film will look at reasons for the worldwide collapse of honey bees, “the focus is not on the death of bees, but on their lives . . . and how closely their lives and deaths are linked with ours.”

Now, here is what particularly intrigues me about this project. Although they are not beekeepers, these filmmakers have amassed a large amount of information, all of which they cannot possibly use in their film. Instead of letting this material go by the wayside, they are writing a blog about bees, beekeepers, the making of the film, and interesting asides as they come up.

The blog, written by Kerstin Hoppenhaus, the co-author of the project, has posed some difficult questions and unearthed some fascinating stories. I urge you to take a look at Most posts are in English or German, and other translations are available upon request.

Another thing that fascinates me is their attention to detail and accuracy. It was Kerstin who first wrote to me questioning the statistic that “bees pollinate one-third of the human diet.” Kerstin’s group and readers here at have been working to find the source for the calculations on which this familiar claim is based. If you’ve been following this discussion you know it is not an easy task.

A new question appeared yesterday concerning the distances bees have to fly to produce a kilogram of honey. Interesting stuff. It appears that German bees fly substantially different distances than English bees or American bees! How can this bee? Like the one-third question, all the mis-calculations seem to be based on other mis-estimations. On the lighter side, another recent post deals with the phrase, “the bees knees.” I’ve always wondered about that myself–what is it with bees knees anyway?

The fact that these insights are being posted for public consumption and comment gives me confidence that the documentary will be accurate and informative. It assures me that the film will not be based on often-repeated beekeeper rhetoric—but will rely on fresh ideas and clear thinking. I’m sold on the movie based solely on the questions being asked.


Discover more from Honey Bee Suite

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


  • the question of “how far” is so interesting to me. usually i tell people bees can travel up to three miles. this comes up when local friends discuss honey bee sightings in their gardens and i point out that they might very well be my honey bees. i honestly don’t even know how far my cats go, so the idea of tracking the bees is beyond my abilities. but in my beekeeper class, we heard a story about an eastern washington beekeeper whose hive was poisoned and died. he had an autopsy, and the hive was killed by a specific chemical that required registration. the only person using it in that area was 5+ miles away. the 5-mile neighbor was found to be legally responsible for the hive’s death. it’s anecdotal, and there’s no way for me to trace that story without going to the source, but it seems like, as usual, we don’t know as much as we think we know about the bee’s habits.

    i hate to think about a positive side of hive poisoning, but i can’t think of a more clear marker!

  • Thanks, Rusty, you are very kind.
    I just hope we can live up to your high expectations!

    As for the foraging distance: we are working with scientists who tracked bees with radar to figure out how far they fly and where. As everything else with the bees, it is not as simple as it seems. But a distance of 5+ miles seems to be quite possible.