The Beekeeper Of 'Honeyland' Knows All Too Well: Respect Nature, Or Get Stung

NPR Fresh Air With John Powers August 12, 2019

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Beekeeper Hatidze Muratova lives in a ruggedly mountainous area of Macedonia. She has a simple rule: When you harvest honey, you only take half — and leave the other half for the bees.  Neon

Beekeeper Hatidze Muratova lives in a ruggedly mountainous area of Macedonia. She has a simple rule: When you harvest honey, you only take half — and leave the other half for the bees. Neon

I'm not sure that any creature is more marvelous than the honeybee, with its highly evolved social organization, its ability to create honey, and, of course, the stinger that causes us to take heed whenever we hear buzzing. The pain it threatens makes it easy to think you need an almost-monastic devotion to become a beekeeper.

This idea is certainly common in books and films, where keeping bees has become a metaphor for withdrawal from the world — be it Marcello Mastroianni's disaffected ex-teacher in The Beekeeper, Peter Fonda's Vietnam-vet-turned-beekeeper in Ulee's Gold, or the hero of Michael Chabon's short novel, The Final Solution, in which a retireddetective who's surely Sherlock Holmes now inhabits what's called a "bee-crazed hermitage."

In real life, of course, keeping bees is a way of making a living — and not an easy one. This becomes clear in Honeyland, an exquisitely photographed documentary by Macedonian filmmakers Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska. Shot over three years, this elegant film — which nabbed several top prizes at Sundance — begins as the intimate portrait of a beekeeper who makes famously good honey, and then expands to become something of a parable.

The heroine is 50-something Hatidze Muratova, who lives in a tiny hut in a ruggedly mountainous area of Macedonia, 20 miles from the nearest town and seemingly hundreds of years from modernity. Hatidze spends her life looking after her argumentative mother, who can't move her legs and is going blind, and keeping bees as her family has done for generations. She works with hives high up on precarious mountain ledges and in trees hanging over the river. Her basic rule is simple: When you harvest honey, you only take half — and leave the other half for the bees.

It's a solitary, hardscrabble existence, and Hatidze doesn't enjoy being cut off from the world. Her life perks up when a migrant family moves into her barren dale along with their cattle and mobile home. Although these new neighbors are quarrelsome, she loves the companionship, especially with the kids. When the patriarch, Hussein, learns you can pick up some money from honey, she shows him the ropes of beekeeping. As you might guess, this generosity leads to trouble.

William Golding, who wrote Lord of the Flies, once said that men produce evil the way bees produce honey. And that happens here. But the evil in Honeyland is not the sort we usually see. In a Hollywood movie, Hatidze's story would be a melodrama in which her livelihood is threatened by some profit-obsessed multinational corporation involved in skullduggery.

Stefanov and Kotevska offer a more complicated truth. Hussein isn't some rich corporate thug who deliberately shatters the small, fragile ecosystem that lets Hatidze survive. He's a poor, hard-working father who struggles to support his family and is willing to cut corners producing honey to do that. Hustling and unpleasant he might be, but he's not what I'd call a bad man.

The real evil lies in the way that Hussein, like most of us, has come to see nature as a resource to be exploited. Like the impoverished farmers who burn forests in the Amazon or Indonesia, Hussein is so busy pursuing immediate gain that he doesn't understand the big picture. He doesn't care that if you don't leave behind half the honey, you wind up killing the very bees you need to keep making it.

That's why Honeyland speaks so well to our moment. Right now, the world's bees are being killed off in droves in a mysterious mass carnage known as colony collapse disorder. At the same time, huge parts of the planet are menaced by climate change. And most of the world, not least its leaders, can't be bothered to appreciate what Hatidze knows in her bones — that the ecosystems which sustain us are interconnected and surprisingly frail.

What makes her such a wonderful character isn't simply the decency and warmth revealed by her extraordinary snaggle-toothed smile. It's that Hatidze embodies a sane, respectful and engaged way of living with nature. She knows that if you want honey, you must find a way of living in harmony with the bees that create it. If you don't, you will be very badly stung.

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/12/748823769/the-beekeeper-of-honeyland-knows-all-too-well-respect-nature-or-get-stung

Read more:
https://honeyland.earth/
https://www.honeylandfilm.com/

HONEYLANDBUZZ:
https://www.npr.org/2019/08/12/748823769/the-beekeeper-of-honeyland-knows-all-too-well-respect-nature-or-get-stung
https://www.sundance.org/projects/honeyland
https://www.indiewire.com/2019/06/honeyland-trailer-beekeeping-documentary-neon-1202147645/
https://theplaylist.net/honeyland-trailer-sundance-doc-20190605/

'The Pollinators' Screens at the Newport Beach Film Festival

REMINDER:
The Pollinators screens April 27 and May 1, 2019
at the Newport Beach Film Festival

The Pollinnators Film.jpg

The Pollinators is a cinematic journey around the United States following migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees as they pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts and vegetables we all eat. The many challenges the beekeepers and their bees face en route reveal flaws to our simplified chemically dependent agriculture system. We talk to farmers, scientists, chefs and academics along the way to give a broad perspective about the threats to honey bees, what it means to our food security and how we can improve it.

The Pollinators Screening.jpg
The Pollibnators documentary.jpg

View Trailer Here

https://www.thepollinators.net/

[Filmmaker, Peter Nelson, is a beekeeper based in the Hudson Valley of New York and has also been a backyard beekeeper for 30 years. In addition to his new feature length documentary, The Pollinators, about bees and their importance to our food and agriculture system, he also produced, directed, photographed, and edited the beautiful short film Dance of the Honey Bee, which was featured on Bill Moyers Presents, and can be viewed here.]

The Pollinators Screens at the Newport Beach Film Festival

REMINDER: The Pollinators screens April 27 and May 1, 2019 at the Newport Beach Film Festival

The Pollinnators Film.jpg

The Pollinators is a cinematic journey around the United States following migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees as they pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts and vegetables we all eat. The many challenges the beekeepers and their bees face en route reveal flaws to our simplified chemically dependent agriculture system. We talk to farmers, scientists, chefs and academics along the way to give a broad perspective about the threats to honey bees, what it means to our food security and how we can improve it.

The Pollinators Screening.jpg
The Pollibnators documentary.jpg

[Filmmaker, Peter Nelson, is a beekeeper based in the Hudson Valley of New York and has also been a backyard beekeeper for 30 years. In addition to his new feature length documentary, The Pollinators, about bees and their importance to our food and agriculture system, he also produced, directed, photographed, and edited the beautiful short film Dance of the Honey Bee, which was featured on Bill Moyers Presents, and can be viewed here.]

Fantastic Fungi: The Spirit of Good - Mushroom Mycelium

Filmmakers set up cameras in this forest and captured the most amazing scene. This is an excerpt from the 3D documentary feature about Paul Stamets, renowned mycologist, author and visionary, on how mushrooms can save the world.  A Film by Louie Schwartzberg.