A disturbing phenomenon around the world called Colony Collapse Disorder is affecting honey bees. Colonies of bees are collapsing, with the bees either dying or abandoning their hives. This phenomenon is incredibly damaging to farmers, not so much for the loss of honey, but the loss of pollination. I’ve heard stories of farmers in China having to pollenate trees and plants by hand, because there aren’t enough bees to do it for them. No one knows what is causing this crisis in honeybee population.
The documentary Colony attempts to showcase the problem of the collapse of honeybee colonies by showcasing the lives of beekeepers in the western United States. These beekeepers, apparently, make most of their money not through the production of honey, but through renting their bees to farmers during the pollenation season for their plants. These beekeepers actually travel all over the country the various different crops blooming season, and station their hives in the fields. The honeybees then pollenate the plants, enabling the farmers to grow larger crops.
The movie follows two young beekeepers very closely. These young men receive great financial assistance from their parents to start a buisness as beekeepers. Their buisness is struggling, and the parents worry that this buisness will not be financially viable.
The film’s decision to focus on these beekeepers, however, is a problem. The bee keepers do not appear to be struggling with Colony Collapse Disorder. Rather, they are struggling with the downturn of the American economy and the Recession. In a sense, this can be somewhat confusing. Is the film about Colony Collapse Disorder, or is it simply about the beekeeper? The film seems to be about Colony Collapse Disorder, but the main subjects do not make good examples of beekeepers suffering from this problem.
Despite this problem, the film is beautifully shot, and the director has a strong visual sense. There is a scene where the voices are heard over the image of a dog standing in a driveway. There’s no reason to show the dog, in terms of plot or subject matter, but the image is so striking, and characteristic of the director’s attention to visual detail.
Overall, Colony was an intriguing film, but it was not a compelling film.
Colony was shown the 2010 Cleveland International Film Festival, and is available to rent.