Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Colony: A Review

Colony is a movie about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the mysterious unknown that is ravaging honeybees in the United Stated. I really enjoyed this documentary. It was much more focused on the social aspect of bee keeping, and how the industry is dealing with CCD, then on the science behind it, as I was expecting. The cinematography was beautiful and the entire movie had this backwoods surrealism to it. I almost felt like I was watching Napolean Dynamite, expect the people in the film were for real, and not just acting. I guess you have to be a little quirky to keep bees for a living, but the family that the film focused on was more than a little. But, I think that made me love them all the more.
Over the past few years, America has lost about 1/3 of its honeybees, and no one is quite sure why. There are theories from cell phone signals to genetically modified crops, and no one can seem to prove or disprove any of them. This movie went into a bit of detail on two of the main theories, pesticides and disease. Some scientists (and beekeepers) think that the cocktail of new and "ever-improving" insecticides may be killing off bees. The debate continues on this because dead bees are not found immediately after pesticides are sprayed or even in the spray area. Instead, bees are gathering nectar from these sprayed plants and bringing it back to the hive to feed the young. Some scientists are concerned that these sub-lethal doses are resulting in changes at the genetic level, causing birth defects one or two generations later. Additionally, some scientists speculate that these seemingly harmless doses could be causing memory loss and preventing bees from finding their way back to their hive. Other scientists (especially those that are employed by the chemical companies) think that these pesticides are completely safe for bees and pose no threat.
The second main theory is the disease theory. Bee populations are becoming more and more inbred as beekeepers are getting their queen bees from only a limited number of bee "breeders" (is that the right word? I have no idea...). This limited genetic diversity could be making bee populations more susceptible to disease. Whereas a population with lots of diversity will be likely to overcome most disease (with some dying off and some surviving), a genetically limited population who has no resistance to a disease will lose large numbers, and could potentially die off as a result.
Scientists and beekeepers are still struggling to discover the truth behind CCD. Whatever the cause, the film warns that humans should talk it as a warning sign, the canary in the coal mine if you will.....  If bees are suddenly dying off in large numbers due to some environmental factor, humans could be next if we don't change the route we are taking.
This movie is definitely worth a watch, if only to marvel at the life of beekeepers!

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1 comment:

  1. I am picking this up from the library today- how funny is that!
    Your review is making me optimistic that my husband might enjoy it too.