Main content

The Strange Disappearance of the Bees

THE STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEES is a frightening documentary about how mass deaths of bees have recently swept all over the world. Increasingly each spring, beekeepers open their hives to find entire colonies wiped out. And beekeepers aren't the only ones who are worried. Bees pollinate at least a third of the world's crops. If the dramatic decline in worldwide bee populations continues, essential food crops could disappear, along with entire ecosystems.

Bringing together the latest scientific research, THE STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEES looks at the dramatic colony collapses in beehives around the world. There is no one smoking gun responsible for killing bees. Instead, a constellation of factors is stressing bees more than ever before: from parasitic mites that infect them with deadly viruses, to novel pesticides incorporated into the very cells of plants, and industrial operations that truck millions of bees all over the country.

California's Imperial Valley provides an almost perfect storm of these factors, with 36 billion bees providing essential pollination for nearly a million acres of almond trees. When the trees are in bloom, the Valley looks like a lush paradise. But it's a pesticide-intensive environment in which bees are under such strain they need to be artificially fed-and even then, many perish.

But bees don't have to live under these conditions, and beekeepers don't need to adopt them in order to succeed. In Scotland, Willie Robson has become one of the country's most productive beekeepers, using natural methods to breed and raise his insects. Rather than breeding bees for docility, he encourages natural selection that boosts bees' immunity.

Featuring stunning photography, THE STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEES takes us right into beehives and onto plants along with the pollinators. It also surveys the science through conversations with top researchers such as entomologist May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and biologist Paul Ehrlich of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology.

There may be no easy answers as to why bee colonies are collapsing, but this documentary makes a convincing case that the current industrial agricultural model may to blame-killing off the very pollinators that it requires in order to survive. As Ehrlich puts it, bees have the task of keeping the world alive. If they go in sufficient numbers, we may well follow.

Related Films

Insecticides: A License to Kill

The insect apocalypse is here and pesticides are to blame.

Our Daily Poison

Reveals how everyday chemicals-pesticides, Aspartame and plastics-may…