Taggart Siegel's documentary on the peril facing the world's bees (and therefore the world; that's the point) has plenty of numbers: five million bee colonies have disappeared in the US; each of them has about 50,000 bees; 40 per cent of our food depends on - that is, wouldn't exist if it were not for - bees. But it's not really a numbers sort of documentary. Like Siegel's valentine to whole food, The Real Dirt
on Farmer John
, this is really a film about love: the best of its characters tickles bees' backs with his handlebar moustache and does yoga by the hives to calm them.

Beyond presenting a gallery of eccentric biodynamic apiarists, the film concisely surveys the clear and present danger posed to our food supply if bees succumb to all the stressors afflicting them: industrial-scale monoculture, which robs them of forage and creates oceans of crops which look like deserts to a bee; artificial insemination of queens which weaken genetic diversity; antibiotics and pesticides which weaken bees' resistance to disease and strengthen predators such
as the varroa mite.

Siegel has toured the world (including New Zealand, where he spends his summers) to talk to beekeepers, most of whom mix spirituality with science as they talk about the insects they adore. The one who describes pollen as "materialised light" and shows beeswax candles as being naturally processed sunlight was my favourite.

The film loses polemical bite towards the end but it doesn't detract from its serious intent. If nothing else, it should urge you to press for large-scale horticulturalists to set aside a fraction of their landholdings for bee forage. Better still, you could get a beehive. As the protesters on the streets of Manhattan sang: "All we are saying / Is give bees a chance."

Stars: 4/5
Director: Taggart Siegel
Running time: 82 mins
Rating: D
Verdict: Sweet.

-TimeOut