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I could see myself being a beekeeper, perhaps, although, aside from other constraints, my fascination is tempered by a fear of bees. I sat in on a workshop at the Local Food Fest last summer and it struck me that beekeeping is a natural extension of backyard or community gardening. Beekeepers and their bees can be found in many surprising places such as rooftops in New York City and London.

Bees are essential to the ecosystem, we have a deep connection to them, and they are under threat. That’s the message filmmakers Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz communicate in their wonderful documentary “Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?” The film weaves a story around the disappearance of bees and their importance to humans, agriculture and the larger ecosystem through a cast of devoted beekeepers, scientists, and prominent food security writers/speakers.

Bees are pollinators and they’re responsible for approximately 40% of all agricultural food crops. The disappearance of honey bees, most notable in the U.S. but also observed in Europe, is a serious issue. Colony Collapse Disorder may be the result of a number of different stressors, which include migration (bees are trucked around the country to pollinate mono crops), pesticides, poor nutrition, weakened immune systems, and pests.

The film and its website list a number of things you can do to help save the bees such as planting bee-friendly flowers in your garden, putting a bowl of fresh water outside for the bees to drink, buying local raw honey, and learning to be a sustainable beekeeper.

I highly recommend the film. It’s an important story, told in a visually appealing, accessible and engaging way.

Alison Van Alten’s bee yard at Ignatius Jesuit Centre, Guelph ON

FYI: Here are a couple sites that discuss colony collapse disorder.

http://www.organicagcentre.ca/DOCs/Colony_collapse_bees.pdf

http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572

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