a film by Singeli Agnew and Joshua Fisher | Contact us

Every year, hundreds of professional beekeepers forklift their wooden hives onto 18-wheel semis, strap down the loads, and head out on the highway. Across the country -- from the Imperial Valley in California to the Florida panhandle and the hills of Maine -- farmers of scale rely on these domesticated bees to pollinate their crops.

A lack of honeybees can cause entire crops to fail, sending ripples through global markets. But when the pollinators are plentiful, farmers get bigger and more perfect apples, more prosperous almond trees and bursting cherry orchards.

These bees are the overlooked workers in American agriculture. One out of every 3 bites an American puts in their mouth is dependent on the beekeeper’s diminutive livestock; 15 billion dollars worth of food crops are pollinated by Apis Mellifera every year.

This film follows the journey of one commercial beekeeper – third generation beekeeper Jeff Anderson -- from the honey harvest on the High Plains to the warm winter-feeding grounds of California. It also explores the history of human interaction with bees, a story that reflects the development of agriculture. In ancient Egypt beekeepers floated their clay hives down the Nile to some of the first irrigated fields; in the 21st century, professional bee brokers help balance the rising costs of maintaining hives with increasing demand from big agriculture.

But while today’s beekeepers may be propping up an ever-greater chunk of our diet and economy, the numbers of both honeybees and the numerous species of native bees are in serious decline.

In the last 30 years, the number of honeybees in the US has been cut in half. The beekeepers say it takes more and more work to keep their bees alive as they battle new problems wrought by pesticide use, destruction of habitat, the stress of trucking them around the country, and epidemic infestations of mites and viruses. Recently, beekeepers have even started importing thousands of bee colonies from Australia every year to replace their dying hives and keep up with the demand for pollination.

We’ve arrived at a time in history when even the most simple of biological processes is reliant on a global trade network. View a trailer ->


site: James Buck