Honey Streets will document the craft of Maltese beekeeping in a time when it is threatened by the rise of urbanisation, and the effects of climate change. We are looking at the connection between the decline of the beekeeping community and how that is affecting the fading Maltese identity and their connection to nature.
Honeybees' value to natural ecosystems as pollinators is incalculable, the dependency of other organisms on bee-pollinated plants is broad, providing food and shelter for various animals. The plants they pollinate are also elemental in the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen, which maintains the earth's life supporting atmosphere. Any significant drop in bee populations will have repercussions that go far beyond their loss, a world without honeybees would be almost impossible to contemplate and likely one in which we would never have evolved in the first place. However, despite their importance, their plight is often overlooked. On the island of Malta, the decline of the honeybee is occurring at an alarming rate.
Malta is amongst the largest air polluters in Europe, even though it is a small island in the Mediterranean. The rise of urbanisation and tourism in recent years has left the island stripped of agricultural land, a vital habitat for the local subspecies of Maltese Honeybee. Malta's name derives from the Greek word for Honey, because of its strong relation to beekeeping in the past, however the island is turning its back on the bees and in turn losing the beekeeping community. By looking at the issues of climate change, urbanisation, decline in the honeybee species, and forgotten sense of community on a small island, we are observing these global issues on a micro scale. As islands are small ecosystems and pieces of society, the effects of change are seen far more quickly. Islands are the only places so far to gain full sustainability around the world, but they are also places where the effects of climate change are most visible. so why is it that Malta seems to be going backwards?
After our first trip to Malta, we met with beekeepers and the Bee Savers Society, who made it clear for us why this is such an important topic. They outlined how they feel there is a lack of community on the island, and little being done by the government in preservation. After seeing how dedicated each beekeeper was, we wondered why they were so segregated as a community and wanted to explore this further. Another strong element of the documentary is exploring this rapid loss of species on the island due to loss of agricultural land and lack of preservation action.
Because of intensive agricultural practices and pesticide use, climate change, hotter summers and droughts, the bee population has been even more strained these past few years, with honeybee keepers in Malta loosing up to half of their colonies. The lack of flora on the island means that bees are starving out and have nothing to forage on, meaning that beekeepers now need to actively look after the bee colonies and provide their food source.
We have affected nature to an irreversible point, we now have to actively preserve it or lose our endemic species.
You can substitute Malta for any country in Europe and find the same key issues of urbanisation, loss of agricultural land, lack of community and most importantly endangerment of species. However, these issues are more severe and noticeable in a smaller society and country like Malta. By understanding how these issues have grown out of control on a small island, we will better understand the effect they can have on a larger community.
The Maltese bee is a species that not only is responsible for most of the pollination on the island and plays an important historical role in preserving the Maltese identity, but is also under threat. Introductions of Italian bees mean that the two species are now mating to produce a hybrid and the endemic Maltese species is being overthrown not just by environmental issues but also by the corrupt honey market.
Directing documentaries about identity in the past, as well as abroad in Bulgaria, I know the connection to the subject is what will drive the heart of this story. The beekeeper and his connection to abandoned Maltese nature is my personal focus. I have a fascination with cultural identity and memory which is why I think it's so important to preserve the elements, such as nature, that distinguish us.
I feel that the decline and threat to honeybees doesn’t feel like news anymore but is one of the most vital threats to the environment as we know it. Everyday species become more prone to extinction due to the lack of focus on the environment, especially in a small country like Malta. I want to highlight the importance of preservation for both our biodiversity but also its links to cultural identity which I believe this film will do.
As a producer, I often come into contact with a multitude of different people, and this is part of the job that I love most. Having visited Malta in preparation for this film, and meeting so many of the locals who share our passion for this issue, it really brought to my attention how vital it is that we work together to solve these problems.
Species are becoming endangered all over the world and it might seem a monumental task to save them all, but sometimes focusing on one small living thing, like the honeybee, can have positive impacts on the whole world, and all our futures.
I’m Harrison Mullins, the Director of Photography for Honey Streets.
I am making this film, because for years of visiting the island, I have grown up seeing the changes that are gradually disturbing the culture and tradition that has long existed on Malta. It is important now, because today the country is seeing its worst history of environmental crisis yet and the bees are at the center of this, with the damaging effects biggest on them as a species. My grandmother was Maltese which is why I feel close to Malta’s environment and wish to show how much it has changed since her generation. This is also why I feel responsible for protecting it.
Sounds from nature make up the most impressive parts of our soundscape, but with growing urbanisation these are being drowned out. The destruction of the environment is something I have been fighting against for a long time, and this documentary is a great opportunity for me to focus on a story that I really believe in. Bees are a prime example of neglect towards something so vital to our survival, yet still economic growth is prioritised. Being the sound designer on this project will allow me to discover the soundscape of an entirely new environment and represent the issue in the best way I can.
As Greta once said, “No one is too small to make a difference”.
I am working on this film as the stakes could not be higher. We have less than 10 years to make unprecedented changes and I believe that art is one of the strongest form to make change happen and in this case, understand the complexities posed by the climate threat. Saving honeybees is saving our planet and every step in the right direction, no matter how small or big, matters. My conscious simply won't allow me to sit still and so that one day when, or if I have children, I can look them in the eye and say I did everything I could to protect their future. As an editor, I will do my best to weave the narratives together to form a story that will parallel the issue at hand.
In order for us to document this story we need your help, this film will be funded entirely on your donations and support and we can't do it without you. With your help we can travel out to Malta and purchase specialist equipment, such as bee suits, so that we can closely interact with the honeybees and film their behaviour in the hive. The money provided will also be used to sustain us whilst we are living in Malta, allowing us to afford food and transport around the island. Because one of our main priorities is running a sustainable film shoot, we will be carbon offsetting the emissions generated by our flights, the money going towards an organisation that helps the environment.
Without you we have no film, help us to do our bit for the bees!
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