Queen of the Sun (Review)

Documentary looks that at the importance of honeybees

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In the wake of Food, Inc. have come numerous documentaries about how our profit-oriented tinkering with the natural world is producing disastrous results for both our health and that of the plants and animals we depend on for our food. Not to insult another species, but we are pigs. Queen of the Sun, directed by Taggart Siegel (The Real Dirt on Farmer John) investigates how we’ve now managed to screw up the life of honeybees — there’s a crisis of what’s known as “colony collapse disorder,” in which the worker bees are disappearing from hives. And this has a threatening impact on the entire world, since we’re crucially dependent on pollination for agriculture.

We also learn in the film about a growing threat to American bee health — the wholesale trucking of colonies to California for use by the almond industry. So a lot is at stake in the subject of this film. Yet it is beautiful to watch. The close-up photography is superb — the colonies with their queen and workers, the way that bees are attracted to flowers and crops, the way that honey is produced … we have a front-row seat to watch nature in all its intricacies and delicacies.

We also learn about the grassroots movement toward “green” beekeeping and creation of bee sanctuaries (a movement strong in Cincinnati). And we get some expert commentary on the problems affecting honeybees from, among others, author Michael Pollan and beekeeper/writer Gunther Hauk. And this raises the one problem I had with the film. I attended a screening where Hauk spoke afterward and blamed “colony collapse disorder” on genetic engineering. The film could have gone into that subject in more detail. Grade: B

Opens May 20. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.
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