Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Buzz kill

‘Queen of the Sun’ documentary explains bee crisis

Express Staff Writer

Sara Mapelli performs a ritual dance with 12,000 bees. Photo by

Anyone who loves flowers, eating fruits and vegetables, the taste of honey or sustaining life should find the film "Queen of the Sun" a valuable viewing experience. It is not just another informative documentary about sustainable practices, eliminating genetically engineered seeds or giving up almonds, an alarming monoculture harvest. It is a wake-up call to protect the future of food and farming.

Ketchum native Taggert Siegel produced "Queen of the Sun" to bring to the forefront the crisis of vanishing honeybees, occurring throughout the world.

The film will be screened Friday, July 9, at 7 p.m. at The Community School.

"The film came from out of the sacred and the profane," Siegel said. "It's about what we take. We rob bees of their honey, and we use them as slaves. Bees are a reflection of man. Whatever we do to ourselves will happen to them."

Siegel interviewed beekeepers, biodynamic farmers, queen bee breeders, and rooftop and backyard beekeepers in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and around the U.S.

The film explains why bees are essential to humans because they give wax and honey and allow food to be grown. "Queen of the Sun" also reveals the history of the bees and how they have been worshipped and held sacred by many cultures for thousands of years.

Gunther Hauk, a biodynamic farmer and beekeeper featured throughout the documentary, talks about Austrian scientist Rudolph Steiner, who predicted in 1923 that the honeybee would not survive the end of the 20th century due to mechanized industrial practices. The film discusses colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon among honeybees that occurs when they do not return to their hives—an evident confirmation of Steiner's prediction.

"Bee keepers are often philosophers," Siegel said. "They study nature every second. Being with the bees you can see the beautiful relationship between flowers, the hive and the honey."

The film features an all-star line up of scientists and activists from around the world who all weigh in on the damage to come if the bee crisis is not addressed.

"There is a grassroots movement of rooftop and backyard beekeeping," Taggart said. "We can help the bees. They need habitat and more gardens planted."

Taggart said the beekeepers are not going to give up, which is the underlying story line of the film told through beautiful images, clear and interesting interviews and several artistic and funny animated sequences to lighten a dark topic. One of the most positive directives the film offers is the need to create bee sanctuaries, which would help the ugly practice of monoculture and keep biodynamic farming thriving.

"Queen of the Sun" will be screened at The Community School Theatre. There is a suggested donation of $10, which can be given at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum or at the door. The Sawtooth Botanical Garden, Idaho's Bounty, Environmental Resource Center and The Mountain School are sponsors of the film. For details, visit

Sabina Dana Plasse:

Help honeybees

· Grow flowers, plants and herbs to help provide food for bees.

· Eliminate pesticides in your garden and lawn.

· Bees are thirsty. Provide a continuous shallow basin with clean water in your garden.

· Buy directly from a local beekeeper who avoids chemicals and produces raw honey.

· Eat organic and pesticide-free food.

· Become a beekeeper with sustainable practices.

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