Bees mean business and we find out how much in @morethanhoneyuk #film #beekeeping #bees

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We all know there is a problem with bees. They have been reducing rapidly in numbers over the last fifteen years. We don’t know what has caused this to happen, but what we do know is that depending on the regions of the world, between 50-90% of the bees have disappeared!

Now either they are starting one mega colony which actually, we should all be scared of, or they are vanishing into thin air. The latter is much more likely. What we’re seeing is that billions of bees (for some unknown reason) leave their hives never to return. Here in the UK as well as other parts of Europe, this is being dubbed the “Mary Celeste Phenomenon” after the name of the of the ship who’s crew vanished in 1872.

In More than Honey, director Markus Imhoof uses this topic to shoot a global film to discover the lives of bees from around the world and the bee keepers who look after them in a number of different ways, shapes and forms. This film isn’t just observatory, it also looks at each of the bee keepers attitudes towards the decline of the bees and also how they are going for and against nature to maintain their on colony – whether this be right or wrong.Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 08.46.23

What is fascinating about this project is that you really learn so much about the intricacies of the bee community. Imhoof goes from the idyllic Swiss Alps to visit Fred Jaggi who maintains an age-old tradition of bee keeping in the way his father and his fathers father did. There is passion and also ruthlessness in which he maintains the best of his beehive by taking fearless measures such as decapitating the queen bee when she is seen as ‘lazily’ breeding half breed stock!

On the other end of the spectrum, from one man to a million machines, in the US we follow John Miller who maintains a schoolboy like level of excitement for his bees. Beyond all this however we learn how bees pollinate the trees that start the process for a multi million dollar almond business, and how the use of mixed chemicals to keep the trees ripe and fresh cause havoc amongst the bee community killing them stone dead once sprayed, something that could be avoided altogether if the process of the machines could change to night instead of day. However, John himself is not a big enough voice to make change happen alone and at the end of the day, as much as he loves bees, he loves his job more. Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 08.46.10

These are only a couple of examples of the protagonists Imhoof meets on his journey, from Arizona to Australia and China he has travelled around the world in search of the secret behind the bees decline. Although he hasn’t quite unraveled the answer, what he has done is create a compelling set of stories which can open the eyes of a wider audience to the importance of the bee community around the world. With John Hurt narrating, you feel (particularly during the expertly filmed close ups of inside a hive) that you are watching a mix of Attenborough’s ‘Life’ and an intimate portrayal of human passion and dedication to a species taken too far for granted.

More Than Honey buzzes into cinemas on 6th September and is on limited release.

4 Stars

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Beeconomics – The Purpose behind the Pun… @beeconomics #socialenterprise #brazil #travel #bees

Heather and Dom Ridout have upped sticks and swapped their London lives for a brand new venture in Brazil! A brave move indeed, so Snoochie Boochies, asked them to tell us exactly why they’ve decided to do this – and apparently it all hinges rather importantly on bees! (Yes, buzzing bees!) 

They’ve started up Beeconomics, and if you like what you read from their very first post for us, then good news! There’ll be more updates in the coming weeks! Also, if you feel inclined to support the cause, you can find out all you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter

Most importantly, they’ve also got a fantastic newsletter so make sure you sign up to it to keep up to date on everything related to Beeconomics! 

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Hi! We’re Heather and Dom Ridout – its always been our goal to live and work in Brazil and now we’re doing it! We’re setting up a social enterprise in Pernambuco, northeast Brazil – and we’ll be powered by bees! This venture is a product of our experience in youth work and social enterprise in various contexts, over the last ten years. In 2011, we visited eleven social projects and five social enterprises across Brazil. We kept hearing a familiar story from the project workers that we met – the need to broaden the employment prospects of disadvantaged young people. The majority of social projects we visited were experiencing similar issues of income stream volatility that we had experienced in London. It was this experience that provided the impetus for us to adopt an enterprise model which can generate its own income as well as access appropriate grant funding.

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For now, we are calling the initiative Beeconomics because we cannot resist a good pun but we are working on Portuguese/Tupi names for the business and our products. The venture is based on the production, marketing and distribution of bee-product-based cosmetics and aims to have positive social, economic and environmental impact, here’s how:

Beeconomics will provide employment and training to young people who are facing considerable barriers accessing emerging social and economic resources. You can read more on this issue here beeconomics.org/youth-unemployment/. Beeconomics will provide opportunities to develop transferable skills and gain experience within two growing industries in Brazil: beekeeping and natural cosmetics.

Beekeeping is vital, both ecologically and economically. Approximately one third of global crop production (our food!) relies on animal pollinators and the contribution of honey bees to worldwide food production is valued at a whopping US$50-100 billion per year.  However, there has been a decline in global honeybee populations in the last 10-15 years. Honeybees and other wild pollinators have become subject to a range of debilitating factors including starvation/poor nutrition, loss of habitat, invasive species, insecticides and disease.

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So what does all this have to do with bathtime? There is a global buzz around bee products in the beauty industry (see what we did there?), especially honey and propolis. The medicinal and nutritional properties of bee products have made them key ingredients. Whilst there has been a recent surge in celebrity patronage to the handiwork of the little buzzers, bee products have established longevity in the beauty and personal care industry (notable enthusiasts include Cleopatra, Queen Anne and Madame du Barry) – outlasting many skin-care ‘fads’ and so-called ‘miracle’ ingredients.

So there you have it, if you want to keep up to date with Beeconomics, remember we’re on Facebook, Twitter and have a newsletter which you can sign up to (its at the top of this post!)

Thanks for reading!

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