In 2007, I began scouring the net, searching for information on colony collapse disorder, the ‘mysterious’ phenomenon killing honeybees worldwide.
On YouTube, I came upon an eerie and beautifully sad short animation hailing from Lithuania created by a young animator named Antanas Skucas. It was called Colony Collapse Disorder, An Unfinished Story.
In it, a boy is dreaming; he opens his mouth and an elongated bee buzzes out in search of nectar in a stark, steel world ruined by industrialization.
There is a devil’s silhouette, an abandoned swing moving in the wind, creaking; people are scrambling; it’s mayhem. And still the honeybee tries to spread sweetness and pollinate.
My co-director George Langworthy insisted a bug coming out of a human’s mouth would both disturb and disgust our audience.
I didn’t understand. The image had captivated me. It was symbolic. Was this a topsy-turvy dream where we as a society were waging war on our planet? The bee is seen as a messenger, an ancient creature that preceded humans on Earth by 10 to 20 million years and is now flying toward extinction.
The image reminded me that, according to one Egyptian myth, honeybees are the tears of the sun god Ra. When the tears fall onto the soil they are transformed into bees that build honeycombs and produce honey.
We showed a cut of our film, and indeed viewers perceived the image of an insect exiting a boy’s mouth as disgusting and disturbing. I still wanted to keep it in. Wasn’t art meant to provoke?
We did, however, include other clips from Skucas’ short Colony Collapse Disorder, An Unfinished Story. Here is the original piece in full. Tell us what you think. Leave a comment and earn BeeBucks.
Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, professional researcher, and producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.
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