September 17, 2020  (Web Review)

The Pollinators

Collective Eye Films, 92 min., not rated, DVD: $50.99 (w/PPR: $125), May 1

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Peter Nelson’s eco-documentary updates previous environmental-alert material such as Nicotine Bees, The Colony, and Collapse, dealing with decline of honeybee populations and the implications for larger crises in the realms of flora and fauna. In The Pollinators an emphasis is put on use of beekeepers not only as harvesters of honey and beeswax products, but also as professional pollinators themselves; flowering-crop-related industries (apples, almonds, etc.) depend on itinerant beekeepersone of whom refers to his breed as the last of the real cowboysto truck mobile hives right into the fields and let the insects do their vital work with pistils and stamens. In theory everybody wins…but in practice, bees are experiencing severe die-offs, blamed on invasive Asian mites, fungi, “colony collapse disorder” (CCD), climate change, and poor agri-industry regulations (the EPA should be “CPA” for ‘Chemical Protection Agency,’ says one interviewee) that dose the valuable bees with pesticides. And there is the pressure on farmers to crank out accelerated, year-round monoculture supermarket produce far more than natural apian cycles (not to mention the soil) can normally support. In the big picture, we’re told, CCD is only a small part of the menace, and when the bees fail, much more of the environment will go with it. Solutions offered include more sustainable, “regenerative farming” techniques and more diversity in bee culture, though the proposition of rescuing the hives via involving more young women in beekeeping seems a little quixotic, faced with a dysfunctional factory-farm system that seems to push everything towards extinction. Author-activist Bill McKibben is among the academics, apiary owners, and involved observers on camera. An important, if sad look at the current state of the queens, workers and drones, this is recommended. Aud: J, H, C, P. (C. Cassady)