Other documentaries have done a fantastic job explaining in great detail the scientific nature of CCD. What the Last Beekeeper seeks to do is humanize the bees and tie them to very human stories. CCD is an environmental crisis, but until it hits home on a personal level, there will be no hope for change. After all, the plight of man and the plight of bees have been linked for centuries and at no time in history has that relationship been more strained.
From a distance – beekeeping has looked the same for hundreds of years, and serves as an example of a harmonious relationship between man and nature. As one of the beekeepers in “The Last beekeeper” puts it – “Bees are here to serve and to help. They make enough honey for themselves and everyone else too.” But look closer, and things begin to feel very different. As the film begins to unravel the mystery of the disappearing bees, this calm begins to give way to a mechanical eeriness. The trucks criss crossing the highway, the mechanization of honey and beekeeping, and the changing nature of agriculture are all reflected in a jarring editing style, soundtrack and shot choices as the film progresses.
In addition to the story of the bees in United States, the film weaves in the personal stories of 3 beekeepers whose lives and livelihoods are tied to the fate of the bees in unexpected ways. Their story becomes the story of the bees. It’s an emotional journey that reveals some very basic truths not only about the environment, but about the nature of mankind. Our entire agriculture system rests on the backs of these tiny insects. So as agriculture has changed in the United States, the beekeeping industry has been forced to keep up. In fact, beekeeping has undergone more changes in 20 years than in the previous 300. But as bees are pushed to maximize production, their numbers have been steadily dwindling. Then, in 2007, the bee numbers collapsed. And it has proven to be more than a one time event.