Film hopes to start buzz on bees

UWA scientists Barbara and Boris Baer at work. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d400232
UWA scientists Barbara and Boris Baer at work. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d400232

With a shared enthrallment for examining the complex societies the little honey-makers create, Barbara Baer-Imhoof and Boris Baer are investigating the insects’ reproduction, ecology and immunity.

The Swiss couple came to Perth in 2005 because Australia has the last remaining healthy bees on the planet. It also has a climate that generally suits the black and yellow creatures and houses a large population of wild varieties.

‘After 13 years studying bees, we are still excited to get into our suits and open a colony to interact with these animals ” and they really talk to us,’ Barbara said.

‘When they are happy, their humming differs from when they feel disturbed and a healthy colony has a beautifully sweet smell of wax and honey ” sick bees smell differently.

‘Their complex societies and division of labour resembles our societies in many ways, but they are fascinatingly different also. Imagine living in a completely dark town consisting of 50,000 sisters, 2000 brothers and your mum, smelling in 3D with your feet and communicating via dances that cause the walls of your rooms to vibrate.’

The dedicated duo feature in new film More than Honey ” part of the 2013 Audi Festival of German Films ” directed by Barbara’s Oscar-nominated documentary-maker father, Marcus Imhoff.

With extraordinary footage of the insects at work, it highlights how the world’s bee population is diminishing by billions every year, pushing the world closer to an environmental catastrophe.

Barbara hopes the film will encourage moviegoers to gain newfound respect for honeybees and see them as beautiful, interesting creatures vital for producing food.