A few weeks ago Jayne and I were invited to promote bees and bee products (sell honey) at COSI. It was part of the "Sustainability Series", a once a week showing of an independent film which dives into some poignant issue touching our world. That week the issue was honeybees, and we had the pleasure of watching "More Than Honey."
The film was fantastic, the photography was amazing, but we left with somewhat of a sour taste.
Here's why- shortly into the movie you could sense a distinct and biased angle, a bent that persisted throughout the film against the "evils" of commercial beekeeping. You'll feel this bias just by watching the two minute trailer. (By the way, Einstein didn't say that.)
The film maker seems to have things figured out: the cause of CCD, the reason for honeybee decline is commercial beekeeping and the pollination service to modern industrial agriculture.
And for all I know this may be true.
Big beekeepers do live and work in a chemically dependent, screwed up, unnatural system. They do truck bees around, they do, as John Miller stated, "deal with death on an epic scale." But I think the film seriously over-explored the "dirty" parts of big beekeeping and understated or misinformed the viewer about the importance of beekeeping on a commercial scale. I really felt my blood pressure go up at times... it's not the old man beekeeper in the beautiful mountain meadow who puts food on my plate! It's John Miller! It's Ed Eisele! (previous post) It's my old boss Wayne Morris and now his daughter, taking up the commercial reins. These are extremely valuable people, not the evil capitalist pigs that the film would lead the viewer to believe.
There are maybe 1200 of these men and women in the country. In the country! These are truly exceptional people. They manage to keep bees alive and get strong colonies placed in the orchards and the fields at the critical right time. This takes great skill, experience, know-how and at times a little luck. These people work hard, long hours full of sweat and dirt and huge chunks of the year away from their families. Believe me, I know. They indirectly provide you and I with about a third of our food. The good parts of our diet- nuts, fruits, veggies... these people are the gatekeepers.
Is it for money? Of course. Good money. But they're not money hungry capitalists, as the film insinuated. The few commercial beekeepers I know, do it for love. For the love of bees and love of the lifestyle. (Wayne Morris: "Isaac, we're the last real cowboys.") They know they have a duty of key importance, and they're quietly proud in that knowledge.
Ok movie over.
Time for my almond season tip-of-the-hat to commercial beekeeping.
Sorry to do this again, but I'm gonna, embarrassing as it is...
The year on the road with a commercial beekeeper taught me many things. For one, I don't want to do it. That is, I don't want to do it unless I'm the boss. This song is one thing I got out of that experience.
It's a love song, sort of. And a trucking song, sort of. I was in California with the bees and Jayne was back in Montana with school. It was midFebruary and the almonds were in bloom.
Here you are. Poor singing from our "recording studio" in the honey house. Enjoy, and Happy Valentines!