Like virtually all school pupils in Switzerland, I was recently taken by our class teacher to a local cinema to watch a documentary called More Than Honey. As we all sat down and the room darkened, our teacher stood up and hailed it the most popular and important Swiss film for a decade. The film has even been nominated for an Oscar, for best foreign-language film.
You might have assumed that More Than Honey is a film of misanthropic proportions and full of green nonsense. And you’d be right. The film tackles the problem of the apparent disappearance of bees in recent years. By doing so it also appeals to modern prejudices, using them to explain the shrinking bee populations. The arrogance with which Markus Imhoof, the director of this docu-rant, proceeds is staggering.
More Than Honey’s main concern is the disappearance and gradual extinction of the bees. Imhoof does not blame one particular thing for this: ‘It is not the pesticides, the mites, the antibiotics, the incest or the stress that is killing the bees. It’s all these factors together.’ From this he concludes: ‘The bees are dying because of the success of civilisation.’
After making this statement, he goes on to examine why the bees are not doing more to fight back against us humans. Ominously, he highlights reports of how African killer bees have allegedly killed hundreds of people. His evidence for this is slightly dubious and the idea of bees being capable of taking revenge, as Imhoof implies, is frankly ridiculous, but it is a very worrying sign that Imhoof suggests that there is justification in the ‘murder’ of humans by bees, and that it is something that we should be scared about on a global scale.
It is hard to take Imhoof, a believer in ‘swarm intelligence’, seriously after such claims. But we shall nevertheless do him the honour of venturing further into his arguments.