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‘Queen of the Sun’ pollinates awareness of bee crisis

Sara Mapelli performs a ritual dance with 12,000 bees in "Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?," a documentary opening Friday, June 17, at the Varsity Theatre. Ruby Bloom/Courtesy photo

By
June 7, 2011 |

The documentary “Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?” will open Friday, June 17, at the Varsity Theatre, 616 Second St., as part of its nationwide theatrical release.

Portland-based Taggart Siegel’s documentary is an in-depth investigation to discover the causes and solutions behind colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon where honeybees vanish from their hives, and never return.

“Queen of The Sun” follows the voices and visions of beekeepers, philosophers and scientists from around the world, struggling for the survival of the bees. The busy insects have provided humans with honey, wax and pollination of food for more than 10,000 years.

“If we kill all the bees, there will be no agriculture. I repeat, no agriculture,” says Carlo Petrini, who is featured in the film.

Adds author Michael Pollan, “Bees are the pollinators that guarantee fruit growth and survival. The honeybee is important because we depend on it to pollinate 40 percent of our food, a tremendous amount of what we eat.”

“Queen of The Sun” takes a journey around the world to uncover the compelling perspectives concerning the complex problems bees are facing, such as malnutrition, pesticides, genetically modified crops, migratory beekeeping, parasites, pathogens and lack of genetic diversity from excessive queen breeding.

The film elegantly finds practical solutions and discovers the deep link between bees’ survival and our own, a news release says.

Beekeeper Gunther Hauk calls the crisis “more important even than global warming. We could call it colony collapse of the human being, too.”

Recently, the United Nations released a study confirming that bee decline is a global issue.

“Of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees,” the study says. The head of the U.N. Environmental Programme warns, “The writing is on the wall. We have to do something to ensure pollination for future generations.”

Bees are the engines that keep the earth in bloom. “Queen of The Sun” presents the bee crisis as a global wake-up call and illuminates a growing movement of beekeepers, community activists and scientists who are committed to renewing a culture in balance with nature, the news release says.

Siegel, an independent filmmaker since the mid-1980s, is best known as the director of the 2006 grassroots hit “The Real Dirt on Farmer John.” This critically acclaimed feature documentary, about a maverick visionary farmer, won 31 international film festivals awards and was released theatrically around the world.

Siegel also is also known for his award-winning films “The Split Horn: Life of a Hmong Shaman in America,” “Between Two Worlds” and “Blue Collar and Buddha,” which capture the struggle of refugees in America. He is the co-founder of Collective Eye Inc., a nonprofit media production and distribution organization based in Portland and San Francisco.

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