Bad News From the Bees in Queen of the Sun


Eco-disaster docs tend to follow a rote formula, with the key ingredient being a deluge of depressing yet unsurprising data. But few are as visually sumptuous as this explication of the disappearing honeybee population. Director/co-producer/cinematographer Taggart Siegel assembles a quirky collection of beekeepers, philosophers, writers, and scientists to outline what, as Queen of the Sun’s subtitle puts it, the bees are telling us. Their news is not good: Thanks to a lethal combination of single-crop factory farming, haphazard pesticide use, slapdash genetic engineering, and increasingly resistant parasites, “colony collapse disorder” (the sudden disappearance of entire bee populations) has become alarmingly commonplace, especially in the United States, and jeopardizes food production worldwide. True to form, Queen of the Sun presents inspiring and direct solutions from the likes of journalist Michael Pollan, activist Vandana Shiva, and biodynamic farmer and author Gunther Hauk, but it also glosses over the question of how migratory beekeepers, among others, would make a living if those fixes were enacted. Siegel ultimately makes up for this omission with his lovingly shot, near-psychedelic imagery, which serves as an unusually visceral reminder of the rich variety in nature—and what’s at stake if bees bug out for good.