Bees buzzing in Sydney

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live.” Einstein.

After the welcoming words of the new Swiss General Consul to Australia, Mr Ernst Steinmann, and SAAN member and EPFL Alumni Dr. Steve Cochard, the Swiss documentary ‘More than honey’ was screened in a fully booked up auditorium at the University of Sydney. With the provocative quote by Einstein, and searching for answers for the current worldwide honeybee colony decline, the documentary took the audience on a fascinating journey to meet almond growers in California, human pollinators in China, beekeepers in the Swiss mountains and researchers in Australia. Back in the auditorium, the showing of the film was followed by an animated panel discussion. Chaired by Prof. Barbara and BorisRoland Stocker, Vice-President of SAAN, the panel was composed of eminent researchers, specialized in the behavior of social insects: Prof. Madeleine Beekman, Associate Professor Nathan Lo, Prof. Ben Oldroyd (all University of Sydney), Prof. Boris Baer and Dr. Barbara Baer Imhoof (both University of Western Australia). The latter two have been intensively involved in the making and promotion of the film ‘More than Honey’ and served as scientific consultants to director Markus Imhoof. The panelists pointed towards current and future risks for Australia’s honeybees and explained how Australia’s isolation and strict quarantine policy helps to protect their bees from infectious diseases. Further, the audience was given the opportunity to ask specific questions on the making of the film and the work of the present bee researchers. During the following cocktail, the audience engaged in discussion on the themes highlighted by the various speakers.

SAAN kindly acknowledges EPFL Alumni, ETH Alumni, the Swiss Consulate General, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, and the University of Sydney for their generous support of this most successful event.

More than Honey has without any doubt played an important role in raising awareness of the global issue of bee decline; let’s keep fingers crossed for its nomination of Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards 2014.