I have my friend Simon Buxton to thank for introducing me to Maryam Henein, the talented Co-Director / Producer of Vanishing of the Bees, and I recently had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of her important new film.
Along with Co-Director / Producer, George Langworthy, Maryam has produced a superb, must-see film that captures the world of the honey bee and its relationship with man in compelling fashion. The film is provocative and unrelenting in its message: pesticides appear to be killing the honey bee and if the US Environmental Protection Agency and others do not intervene and stop the web of corruption that is allowing the problem to go unattended, then the results will be catastrophic – and not just for the honey bee.
Vanishing of the Bees is a wonderfully crafted film, engaging and lovely to watch. More importantly, it highlights what is truly at stake:
Bees represent a $16-billion industry on the edge of collapse and, tragically, the species is at the point of annihilation. Not only does this present catastrophic agricultural consequences, but an ancient and sacred tradition is now in jeopardy.
The film’s excellent website succinctly highlights the dilemma;
“Bees provide 1/3 of everything we eat and without them farming would be thrown into chaos. 80% of insect-pollinated plants rely on the honey bee to bring them to life. Without the honey bee crops of over 90 fruits and vegetables would be seriously diminished, if not completely lost…”
Despite the serious and rather distressing reality of Vanishing of the Bees, the premiere, which was held at London’s posh Mayfair Hotel, was a celebration of the directors’ success in getting the message out.
A highlight of the evening was the speakers’ panel, held immediately after the premiere. Chaired by the film’s supporters, the co-operative, the panel of experts addressed a variety of spirited questions from the audience, which underscored the political complexity that the resolution of the dilemma will require, what with powerful corporations such as Bayer dictating the acceptance of their own products by the US government; products that appear to be killing the honey bees.
In addition to Alison Benjamin, co-author of the excellent book, ‘World Without Bees’, the panel included David Hackenberg, the former president of the American Beekeeping Federation and, arguably, the single most important voice in beekeeping today. It was Hackenberg who first spoke out on the demise of the bees and who has acted as the movement’s advocate ever since. Hackenberg is featured in the film and his insights on the night were memorable and special.
The gala was also attended by its share of UK notables, including Oasis front man Liam Gallagher, who extended his support for the honey bee and mused: “I like honey. If it weren’t for honey, I’d have a rough voice”.
I was also able to meet up with EastEnders star, Michelle Collins, who gave her support to the honey bee, and even the honey bee himself!
The evening was a great success, but, make no mistake, the situation is dire. Awareness is half the battle, however, and films like Vanishing of the Bees are vital to the solution. What can you do to help? Look for Vanishing of the Bees in a theatre near you. Support it. Watch it. It’s a great film. Then, take action.
Congratulations to all involved. Viva Maryam and George. Viva the honey bee.