Bee People film encourages people to get "bee fever"

"Bee People" First Look from Glencross Films on Vimeo.

Aside from sharing stories of expert and amateur beekeepers, the film also focuses on creating awareness of Colony Collapse Disorder, which has been decimating the bee population. "Since 2006, commercial beekeepers have been losing 60 to 75 percent of their hives. [The bees] disappear and don't come back, and nobody knows why," Ellis explains.

When they took their cameras to the streets, they discovered that a number of people already knew about the issue. "The reactions were always priceless and comical, and also a lot of people had very deep things to say about what's going on with Colony Collapse Disorder," Knappe says. "It was a pleasant surprise to learn that people had this on their radar."

One of the proposed solutions to the bee decline is to have beehive every two miles. A bee's flying radius is three miles, so backyard hives would basically give them somewhere to crash. Ellis and Knappe want to encourage viewers to become backyard keepers by showing ordinary people who have caught the "bee fever." Says Knappe: "We hope the film reaches people to invest in a new hobby, to think, 'I can give a home to one to two hives and make difference.'"

And that should take the sting out of getting stung, an an occupational hazard. "If you're a beekeeper, you're going to get stung," Ellis acknowledges.

The first screening of the film was last month at the John Malone Theater at the Cable Center, and many in the audience caught the bee fever. "At the beginning of the movie, we asked how many wanted to become beekeepers," Ellis says. The response was tepid. "At the end of the movie we asked again, and double the hands went up."

Although there are no other screenings scheduled right now, Ellis and Knappe have entered the film in about fifteen local and national film festivals, including the Boulder Film Festival and the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and they plan to enter Bee People in five to ten more festivals as the new film season begins. For a low-budget, independent film -- Ellis used her frequent-flier miles to bring Knappe to Colorado and to fly McMahan to New York to meet Planakis -- festivals are a great way to get the word out, Knappe says.

They are currently holding a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds so that they can add the finishing touches to their film. For more information, visit the Bee People website and Facebook page.

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