So last year a few different scouts from documentary producers inquired of us to potentially interview / film with us for their documentaries. That I recall we didn't end up filming with any of them but I think at least one sent someone to come interview us.
Whenever they do so we're usually very adament that we do not wish to be involved in anything which misportrays major honeybee or beekeeping issues, and we are very suspicious (have learned to be after many bad experiences) about just about any documentary makers intentions and/or ability not to get things ass-backwards.
Typically the incorrect information and utter misportrayel is actually in favour of beekeeping, portrays it as more important than it actually is, and garners more interest in beekeeping and honeybees, but as scientifically minded people who are very involved with educating the public about bees, we deeply resent any incorrect information about bees being proliferated, ESPECIALLY from ostensibly informative "documentaries."
For example, one thing we constantly come across in news items is that "Einstein said that the human race would collapse if all bees disappeared" or some such crap, as if this is an absolute fact because he said it, whereas in fact he almost certainly did not say that. Apparently newspapers don't check their facts anymore.
Anyway, one of last year's documentaries has finished production, produced a trailer, and will be screening their film in the nearby town of Laguna Beach here tomorrow. Judging by the trailer it looks like they are flogging the "OMG THE BEES ARE DISAPPEARING, ABOUT TO BE EXTINCT, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIEEEEEEEE" line to the very fullest extent. I've written about this at length on some other occasions, but basically the bottom line is that this is not at all even a little bit the case. There are more managed colonies in the Northwest now than there were before the onset of Colony Collapse Disorder, for example. And to make a large scale documentary as this appears to do and still think the bees are actually endangered requires one to really be putting their fingers in their ears going "LALALALALALALA" and very pointedly ignoring all the experts and only listening to beekeepers that are either really uninformed or just glad to ham it up and say oh yeah this shit is bananas.
Additionally, all the press for this documentary mentions front and center that "1 out of 3 bites you eat has been pollinated by honeybees." Another utterly incorrect fact that they apparently didn't bother to fact check.
There is at least an original quote to this effect though. It was by one "S.E. McGregor," a figure with the federal agricultural commission or something, in 1976. He did say "It appears that perhaps one third of our total diet is dependant, directly or indirectly, upon insect-pollinated plants." However, he did not back this up with any research and I don't think he had any idea it would be taken as the word of god for the next thirty years
I'll quote directly from noted entomologist Keith Delaplane for more quotes pertaining to this, from this excellent article:
...The authors of the FAO analysis concluded that the proportion of global food production attributable to animal pollination ranges from 5% in industrialized nations to 8% in the developing world.
One can summarize from this paper that most of the calories that sustain human life derive from non-pollinator-dependent crops. This in no way denigrates the importance of pollination at the local level. One need only imagine the economic fallout of a pollinator crash on the California almond industry or Costa Rican coffee. But is it true, sensu stricto, that human life depends on bee pollination? No.
ut there is another mega-trend at work, and that is that global demand for animal-pollinated crops is increasing faster than the demand for non-pollinated staples. The fraction of total production made up of animal-pollinated crops grew from 3.6% in 1961 to 6.1% in 2006, and even these statistics mask a huge jump in the years since 1990[iii]. In other words, more people around Planet Earth want ice cream, blueberry tarts, watermelon, almond chocolate bars, coffee, and yes McDonald’s hamburgers - and the trend shows no sign of slowing. So, to what extent does the quality of human life depend on bee pollination? I would say a lot - if you are fortunate enough to live in an economy where bee-pollinated crops make up a significant fraction of what one considers a “normal” diet.
In conclusion, I suggest that what’s at stake here is not something so melodramatic as Einstein’s fictitious and dire warning about the collapse of Homo sapiens. I think bee advocates do their cause a disservice when they stoke the flames of hyperbole and sensationalism. Much better to pose the question as a quality of life issue. To the extent that we value a diverse food supply with minimized trauma to the environments where it is produced, we will place a high value indeed on honey bees and other pollinators.
Again, if you're interested, I recommend you read the entire article I quoted above.
In other news we're starting to look into booking next year's speakers for the bee club. One of the other officers wants to book this guy Jeremy Rose who wrote a book on beekeeping in California. I had never heard of him but on looking him up it looks like he's been beekeeping for five years and runs 300 hives. .... I'm pretty sure I have more experience than him, maybe I should write a book and tout myself as an expert too!