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Queen of the Sun – Bees in Crisis

May 27, 2010

By Rebecca Briggs

Through fantastic coincidence, I was fortunate to be in Seattle this weekend for a screening of Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz’s new film, Queen of the Sun, at the Seattle International Film Festival. Inspiring, humbling, thought provoking, entertaining, and beautifully shot, this film does much more than introduce the current crisis faced by the bees. Queen of the Sun is a call for cultural renewal, for a holistic and compassionate understanding of these amazing creatures.

As predicted by Rudolf Steiner in 1923, bees today face dire threats, as evidenced by the growing problem of colony collapse disorder (CCD), where entire colonies of bees suddenly disappear. Pesticides and herbicides attack these crucial pollinators, weakening them in many ways and potentially hampering their ability to find their way back to the hive. Extensive swathes of monocultured crops destroy bee habitat by providing food for only several weeks out of the year. The transitory nature of modern pollination services moves bees from almond fields to citrus groves all over the country, allowing diseases to move from hive to hive with unprecedented quickness. Artificial insemination of queens eliminates their natural procreative flights, during which queens are inseminated by many drones, an instinctive ritual that ensures genetic diversity within the colony.

Modern agriculture has turned bees into mere “tools” for pollination services. Like many other issues coming to light with industrialized agriculture, this mechanization of bees appeared to work for some years, but is now creating critical problems as we see massive colony die-offs. In the question-and-answer period after the film, director Taggart Siegel spoke of fear he felt when he heard the quote by Albert Einstein that, without bees, “man would only have four years of life left.” The lives of human and bees are so integrally intertwined that resolving the crisis requires more than quick fixes, but rather a genuine cultural renewal.

Gunther Hauk of Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary

Those who have seen Siegel’s prior work, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, will likely recognize the quirky, yet truly inspiring, nature of the film. From an artist dancing with bees, to a French beekeeper who practices yoga meditation with his bees, to leading sustainable agriculture advocates and thinkers such as Michael Pollan, Raj Patel, and Vandana Shiva, Queen of the Sun provides a diverse and holistic view of the issue.

One also sees in the film the prominent and crucial role of biodynamics in understanding and responding to this crisis. Biodynamic beekeeper Gunther Hauk, author of Toward Saving the Honeybee and founder of Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary, provides many insights about how we might observe, help, and build relationships with the bees. Also featured are biodynamic beekeepers Michael Thiele of the Melissa Garden honeybee sanctuary and Jacqueline Freeman.

Gunther Hauk holding comb

Jacqueline Freeman

This is a meaningful, necessary film — one that deserves the wide attention given to other documentaries like Food, Inc. The film is a project of Collective Eye, a non-profit community of filmmakers. Word of mouth and grass-roots efforts can help this film succeed and get its critical message to as wide an audience as possible. It was very interesting to note that many of the questions after the screening were directed to the question: “how can we help get this out there?” We are working to figure out how we can help, and we encourage you to comment and provide suggestions.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. rileybrad permalink
    June 5, 2010 3:32 am

    Thanks for this. Many of us have been tracking the progress of the film. I have another layer of insight with the Bees in this, http://rileybrad.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/heart/ where I track the Bee and The Fifth Chamber of the Human Heart.

  2. June 9, 2010 1:52 pm

    Hi Rebecca,
    My name is Chrystal Vang and I am currently working as Director of Marketing for Citizens Alternative Media at http://www.camgrants.org. We are a website that focuses on resources, both financial and knowledge based, for documentary film makers and those that are involved in alternative media. Our interest is media for the people, by the people. I am contacting you because I saw the Film Queen of the Sun and I particularly liked your review that is on your blog. I found it to be informative both in the realm of the plight of the bees and also in your film knowledge. Would you at all be interested in posting your review to our sight? Also, we are currently having a Documentary Proposal Contest. There is no fee to enter and there are cash prizes. I welcome you to enter our contest if you have any issue that you are passionate about that you would like to see a documentary of. If you have any interest in posting your review please let me know and we would be willing to provide a link to your blog. You may email me at marketingcamgrants@gmail.com.

  3. September 23, 2010 11:42 am

    I filmed and narrated what I saw on my farm for 40 minutes.
    There were sheep and lambs, hens and a rooster plus 35 roosters almost
    ready for butchering. My little sister said I am a good narrator.

  4. March 17, 2011 4:42 am

    Great Post,

    thought you might enjoy my machinima film about bees and permaculture

    Bright Blessings

    elf ~

    • rileybrad permalink
      July 22, 2011 1:41 pm

      Wow what a great clip on the mysteries of honey and the bee. Thank you for sending me over there with the link. Great Stuff!

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