More than Honey (Swiss, German, Austrian)

2012 Swiss, German, Austrian

SUNDAY 6 April 10.00 am
TUESDAY 8 April 8.00 pm
RUNNING TIME 95 minutes


More than honey, a new documentary by the Swiss filmmaker Marcus Imhoof, looks into the fascinating world of bees, showing small family beekeepers (including the beekeeper of ERSTE Foundation beehive, Heidrun Singer) and industrialised honey farms. More than honey is a film on the relationship between mankind and honeybees, about nature and about our future. Honeybees show us that stability is just as unhealthy as unlimited growth, that crises and disasters are triggering evolution and that salvation sometimes comes from a completely unexpected direction.


Swiss film-maker Markus Imhoof’s documentary about bees is elegant, handsomely shot and often instructive, and its remarkable extended close-up sequences of bees’ social structure are fascinating.

Yet this isn’t just a pretty nature documentary: it’s a grim warning. The world’s bee population is sharply declining, and the consequences are potentially grim. Einstein reportedly remarked that if bees died out, mankind would not survive more than four years. Imhoof takes that quote at face value and spells it out in detail: without bees, a huge percentage of flowers and trees would become extinct because they rely on bee pollination; so does up to a third of what we humans eat.
At home in Switzerland and then travelling to China, America and Australia, Imhoof surveys the problem and discusses it with experts who offer a range of solutions.

Elderly Alpine bee-keeper Fred Jaggi prefers the natural method, preserving the local breed of black bees to pollinate and make honey. American entrepreneur John Miller takes the opposite approach, taking millions of bees around the US to pollinate crops; for him, it’s unapologetically an industrial process.

Another American, Fred Terry, champions “killer bees” – a genetic hybrid strong enough to ward off infections and pesticides that wipe out other strains. But Imhoof also reveals a bizarre practice in China, where migrant workers on farms pollinate trees by hand: it looks like an absurd, laborious losing battle.

The subject matter of More Than Honey may be serious and depressing, but Imhoof’s intense focus on these remarkable creatures – and their complex, sophisticated behaviour – triggers feelings that are curiously uplifting.

Source: Telegraph UK 5/9/13