Albert Einstein is commonly reported to have said that if bees die out, our species will have four years - though he probably didn't; the quote was first attributed to him 40 years after he died. But whoever said it had a point: a third of the world's food depends on bee pollination.

This engaging German documentary gives a good outline of the crisis facing apiculture (and its dependent horticulture), steering a relaxed middle course between the alternately crackpot and polemical tones of 2011's excellent Queen of the Sun. Beekeepers' bee populations now survive only because of drugs that deal to the varroa mite and counteract the effect of the fungicides and pesticides that have, in some places, wiped them out completely: the film's most striking and depressing scene shows Chinese orchardists pollinating by hand, because there are no bees left to do it for them.

Trailer: More Than Honey

Imhoof (whose father was a beekeeper) and his team travel to Switzerland, China, the US and Australia gathering stories.

The film that results is unevenly paced and slightly rambling but packed with wonderful insights (bees, the only creatures apart from humans who can communicate about something that is not present, and can reconsider plans when circumstances change); colourful characters (the Swiss octogenarian whose only protection against wild bees is to smoke a cigar); and stunning close-up photography of colonies.


It is also almost certainly the only film you will ever see with an aerial sex scene.


Markus Imhoof

Running time:

95 mins


G. In German, Swiss-German, Mandarin and English with English subtitles


Sobering, though genial and watchable

- TimeOut