Bee People film encourages people to get "bee fever"
Bees have been stung with something of a bad reputation, but they make a big contribution to life on earth by pollinating plants. And the people behind the documentary Bee People are out to prove that bees deserve a better image....and a better chance at survival.
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Denver-based analysis consultant and technology writer Leslie Ellis became a beekeeper in 2011, and has wanted to educate people on the subject ever since. She took beekeeping classes at To Bee or Not to Bee, and met the owner of Rocky Mountain Bee Removal, Gregg "The Bee Guru" McMahan. "As I was meeting these people who are into bees, I realized they're all kind of crazy, but in a good way," Ellis says.
So she approached David Knappe, a director, producer and editor, with the idea of making a documentary about bees. Knappe agreed and came to Colorado, where he and Ellis began to shoot various beekeepers, including an eleven-year-old beekeeping apprentice and Dennis Meyer, owner of Das Meyer Bakery, who is deathly allergic to bees but still wants to help. "When Gregg asked [Meyer], 'Why are we putting a beehive on your property?' he said, 'I like to live on the edge,'" Knappe recalls.
One of the subjects of the film is New York's Bee Cop, Tony "Bees" Planakis, an officer with the New York Police Department. "He just loves the bees," Knappe says. "It's something that he learned from his father at a very early age." Whenever there is a bee-related situation in the New York area, Planakis is the go-to guy.
Ellis and Knappe wanted bee icons Planakis and McMahan to meet for the film. So Knappe crashed a NYC Beekeepers Association meeting to try and get Planakis on board. "He was a little resistant at first," Knappe remembers. "I called him back after a big, successful week of shooting and I said it would be really great if we could put these two guys together."
Planakis eventually agreed, and in the film he and McMahan are shown working on a mysterious hive removal and honey extraction. "I see these two guys solve this mystery together, and it was like they were long lost bee-brothers," Knappe says.
Continue reading for a look at Bee People.