Everything you always wanted to know about honeybees but never thought to ask is answered in the sweet documentary More than Honey.
Who knew that one-third of what we eat would not exist without these plant-pollinating “messengers of love”? But across the globe, bees are rapidly and mysteriously dying off. Depending on what part of the world you call home, the extinction rate could be as high as 90 percent. Director Markus Imhoof (The Boat Is Full) set out to explore the phenomenon that’s become known as, “colony collapse disorder.”
A lumbering, Tyrolean-hatted figure, axe and ladder in hand, footslogs his way through a scenic Swiss mountainscape. Were it an American film, our slow-moving hulk would be in search of a teenager’s head to hatchet. But Fred Jaggi’s task is more horrifying than any Freddy Krueger nightmare. Without fear, or the aid of a protective head net, our Freddy takes out a nest of bees with one pendulant swipe of the blade.
For people like Jaggi and Imhoof (both men’s families have kept honeybees for generations) beekeeping is an honored way of life. Imhoof traverses the planet speaking with scientists, apiarists, and businessmen. The first words out of the mouth of industrial beekeeper John Miller as he pulls his 4x4 into Newcastle, California’s Miller Honey Farms are, “Do you hear that? It’s the sound of money.”
Imhoof also touches on the lighter side of apiculture by visiting a woman who runs a mail-order Queen Bee business. Sales would undoubtedly skyrocket were she to auction off drones on eBay.
The delicate, macroscopic eavesdropping into the care and handling of domesticated bees cries out for IMAX. Instead of the bland, formless science-and-nature doc likely to be projected on any domed IMAX screen in the land, More than Honey is abuzz with stories to tell. Even the narration — if not the overall tone of the piece — adds a hint of Herzog.
The film eventually begins to ramble. Rather than carefully cobbling together the various personalities and their stories, Imhoof trips up viewers by fracturing the narrative with his willy-nilly insertion of random swatches of hive-talk. And the intrusive computer-generated bees cheat the viewer by serving as a reminder of how truly awful Bee Movie was.