Introduction

It’s been over two years now since our family became aware of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and the plight of the bees as average consumers of news and current events. We knew a little more than most about the honeybees’ role in pollination and the ecosystem, but it impacted us particularly because the news arrived at a time when the environment and the economy, in general, seemed poised for disaster.

“If honeybees become extinct, human beings will have four years left on the planet.” This quote (actually popularized by one our film’s interviewees G.W. Hayes) has been paraphrased many times over since Albert Einstein’s original version. But, it leaves quite an impression anyway. Something had to be done…or at least investigated.

My father is an active and inquisitive nutritionist. So, on his own schedule, he began work on a nano-encapsulated compound that aimed to boost the bees’ immune systems, seeing as the scientific community has yet to underline one specific cause for CCD. The compound, employing the ancient Chinese therapy known as Fu Zhen (or Fu Zheng), could at least do no harm. It could only help prevent the bees from becoming defenseless to a whole range of threats and pathogens. He set up a small test with Dr. Jay Evans of the USDA. At one point, there was even talk of going to Italy to speak about the compound’s potential. After all, this is becoming a global problem in addition to a major wound on the U.S. economy. The American almond crop, which alone accounts for $15 billion annually, is becoming unsustainable not to mention the fruit, vegetable, honey, milk and beef markets are all depending on honeybee pollination.

In September 2008, I was just finishing up work on a student film entitled Postwar, Florida that went on to win Best Student Documentary at the Tampa Independent Film Festival. My father and I were out for a jog one day when he was reminding me about the CCD phenomenon and the compound in development. Half-jokingly, I said that we should make a film about trying to help the honeybees. That’s how it all started – an off-hand remark during a run around the neighborhood.

In October, our family set out on a sweeping tour through the Eastern United States with a high definition digital film camera recording everything along the way. We spoke to beekeepers, scientists and experts in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida and made stops at Penn. State University and the Florida Department of Agriculture. We even checked in with Dr. Jay Evans at the USDA in Beltsville to receive the results of the compound test (which were extremely positive).

The film, entitled American Colonies: Collapse of the Bee, serves as proof that more federal research funding is vital to the preservation of healthy human lifestyles. It documents one homegrown effort to circumvent the problem eluding the country’s top bee scientists. It also aims to raise awareness through an artistic and entertaining medium. In an age when the terms “green” and “independent” are increasingly diluted to mean a myriad of things for corporations or special interests, here is a truly independent film with a truly green cause that unabashedly hopes to preserve all human interests. Intended for mass audiences at festivals, theater screenings, television distribution or on home video, American Colonies: Collapse of the Bee and its makers seek only to make enough profit as to ensure the production of more films with similarly good intentions. The budget for this project was next to nothing, but I believe that the final product is well constructed and timely.

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