‘Queen of the Sun: What Are Bees Telling Us?’ begs an important question

By Shane Soderland


Associate Professor of English Liz Gray held a screening at the Marple Campus on Nov. 20 for “Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?”

The film screening was inspired by Gray’s personal beekeeping and involvement with the college-wide reading program. “Queen of the Sun” features commentary from the writer of this year’s recommended reading material “Stuffed And Starved” by Raj Patel.

Directed by Taggart Siegel and released in 2010, the documentary film explores the harmonious codependence between man and nature, showcased through the effects mankind has on honeybee colonies.

According to the “Queen of the Sun” website, the film has received considerable recognition, garnering several awards from film festivals, including the Nashville Film Festival, Indiememphis Film Festival, and Planet in Focus Film Festival.

Students gathered in the small auditorium to partake in honey sampling before the film began. The spread consisted of a bear-shaped bottle of natural honey, artificially flavored honey sticks, and plain crackers — as to not take away from the natural honey flavor.

“We have some pasteurized honey and some local honey here for you guys to sample, when you get a chance,” Gray explained to the 12 student attendees. “The pasteurized [honey] has been [modified] before being sold to the public, whereas the local honey is a natural product of the bees.”

The documentary explores the disappearance of honeybee colonies and examines several root causes leading to their exodus. The film touches on how industrialization, climate change, and potent pesticides have prompted bees to die out in drastic numbers.

The film is engaging from start to finish. With an 88-minute run time, it gives a perfect amount of attention to each subject matter examined by Siegel.

Siegel employs several techniques to make the material entertaining for the viewer. Although it’s not beholden to a definitive style, the film’s use of animated sequences and breathtaking imagery allow the content to leap off the screen.

Featuring a myriad of bee experts, “Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?” never loses focus on the subject of colony collapse disorder.

In a spectacular execution, the film’s subjects lend sympathy to what many consider pests. A scene in which a hive is forcefully removed is sure to make audience members flinch at the sight and sympathize with the affected bees.

A notable character featured is eccentric French bee historian Yvon Archard. His quirky personality and passion for bees stands out as a great juxtaposition to drier commentators, like Gunther Hauk. Shirtless, Archard brushes his handlebar mustache in a display that encompasses his unorthodox affinity for his bees.

The audience was particularly fond of Archard’s presence whenever he was on screen and frequently chuckled at his antics.

Gray spoke on the cause of colony collapse disorder following the film’s conclusion.

“Neonicotinoids,” Gray said. “Since this movie’s release, we’ve come to find that chemicals such as these are significantly harmful to bee colonies and directly relate to colony collapse disorder.”

In how this film is able to relay its message to the audience, “Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?” is fantastic and worth a watch for anyone who’s interested in the environment.

Contact Shane Soderland at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

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