Bees are key to the survival of entire crops. We go around the world to see why there is a global decline in bee populations and what are possible solutions.
[NOTE: A World without Bees, available until July 19, 2022.]
By Nicolas Dupuis and Elsa Putelat
We live close to an association called “L’abeille fait le lien” or “The Bee Makes the Link” in Toulouse, France. This association installs beehives and introduces the public to beekeeping. Neighboring schools come to see the bees and participate in the honey harvest. This creates a lively village atmosphere in our town. Everyone got involved so that the bees could recolonize our neighborhood and make our balconies and parks bloom again. Unfortunately then came colonies of Asian hornets and Varroa, a small parasite that kills bees. This was our first encounter with problems that beekeepers face.
Our family had planned to travel for a whole year across three continents: Asia, Latin America and Europe. We decided to focus our trip around bees, honey and beekeepers. From the smallest farms to the laboratories of the largest agro-industrial firms, it was to be an immersion into the beekeeping world.
Through our work and our previous films, we always closely follow the fight for social justice, for our environment, for human rights. We seek to investigate: to understand a situation as a whole by going to see the different players, by comparing the situation from one country to another, from one continent to another. We believe that beekeeping and the protection of bees will be the fight of tomorrow because bees are not only a marker of the good health of an ecosystem; they are the essential link.
We wanted to zoom into nature, to take a closer look, to meet people, understand issues and test the relevance and impact of their solutions. The journey would take us from flower to flower, from country to country, linking landscapes and cultures. In many countries, we realized that the bees were no longer there. Why do bees desert some areas? Will we still have real honey in ten years? What are the measures that we can take now to reduce the threats to the bees and their environment?
Our fate as human beings is intimately linked to that of the bee. In recent years, awareness has become collective and global, but the effects are far from being felt yet. Pesticides and industries continue to destroy swarms and undermine biodiversity. What are the solutions imagined by human beings? This is where we need to zoom out to consider the context in a broader way and look at the connections between countries. It is a deep dive into several worlds: the world of beekeeping and agriculture, but we also need to understand the political and industrial context.
What will the bee of tomorrow be like? We want to imagine the beekeeping of tomorrow, without ruling out any possibilities from the most technologically advanced to the most ancestral practices. In recent years, large agri-food companies have sought to limit the impact of their pesticides in order to continue selling them, but they are also seeking to position themselves in the promising new market of pollination. Faced with industrialization and dependence on large firms, more sustainable responses exist everywhere in the world: reintroduction of bees in urban areas, creation of collective projects, legislation and prohibition of toxic products. From one country to another, through encounters with the various actors, the world of tomorrow takes shape. Shall we have to make a difficult choice between profit and commodification and solidarity and respect for biodiversity?
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