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Originally published Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

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‘More Than Honey’: A fascinating look at bees

A review of the documentary “More Than Honey,” which revisits colony collapse disorder, with a fascinating collection of bee experts.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3 stars

‘More Than Honey,’ a documentary directed by Markus Imhoof. 91 minutes. In German and English, with English subtitles where necessary. Not rated. Varsity.

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A bee is “a messenger of love,” we’re told in Markus Imhoof’s “More Than Honey,” which provides as engaging a definition as any of pollination. Imhoof’s film tidily explains bees’ role in the ecosystem, the current crisis of “colony collapse disorder” (in which bees are dying in vast numbers) and the consequences of a world without bees. We watch agricultural workers in China — where mass use of pesticides eliminated the bee population — meticulously pollinating plants by hand; it seems unthinkably cumbersome, compared to the breezy efficiency of a bee colony.

“More Than Honey” follows ground previously tread — the documentaries “Colony” and “Queen of the Sun,” in recent years, also explored the honeybee crisis — but it does so thoughtfully, introducing us to some fascinating experts along the way. (The topic of bee insemination, for example, just might need its own documentary some day.) And Imhoof’s film is remarkable in its close-up photography. The bees loom large, like creatures from some mutant planet; dangle together in a delicate chain; and fill the air, floating like unusually vivid dust specks. Swarming together, they seem to become one, but the camera finds them as individuals; hopping and dancing and perpetually busy, as they live out their brief but productive lives.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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