Film explores apian epidemic

May 14, 2014
Apis mellifera (the honey bee), appeared on Earth 60 million years before man and is as indispensable to the economy as it is to man’s survival.

Belfast — There will be a free screening of the documentary film "More than Honey" Wednesday, May 28, at 6 p.m. at Belfast Free Library, 106 High St. The event is sponsored by the Waldo County Beekeepers and Belfast Co-op. This film, by Oscar-nominated Swiss director Markus Imhoof, tackles the vexing issue of why bees, worldwide, are facing extinction. There will be post-film discussion with local beekeepers.

Over the past 15 years, numerous colonies of bees have been decimated throughout the world, but the causes of this disaster remain unknown. Depending on the world region, 50 to 90 percent of all local bees have disappeared, and this epidemic is still spreading from beehive to beehive — all over the planet. Everywhere, the same scenario is repeated: billions of bees leave their hives, never to return. No bodies are found in the immediate surroundings, and no visible predators can be located.

In the United States, the latest estimates suggest that a total of 1.5 million (out of 2.4 million total beehives) have disappeared across 27 states. In Germany, according to the national beekeepers association, one fourth of all colonies have been destroyed, with losses reaching up to 80 percent on some farms. The same phenomenon has been observed in Switzerland, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Poland and England, where this syndrome has been nicknamed the Mary Celeste Phenomenon, after a ship whose crew vanished in 1872.

Scientists have found a name for the phenomenon that matches its scale, colony collapse disorder, and they have good reason to be worried as 80 percent of plant species require bees to be pollinated; fruits and vegetables could disappear from the face of the Earth. “If bees were to disappear from the globe, mankind would only have four years left to live,” said Albert Einstein a half-century ago.

To learn more about the award-winning 2012 film, visit: morethanhoneyfilm.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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