Keeping the Bees: Netflix | Bad Beekeeping Blog

It’s great to know a lot about bees, although it sometimes comes between you and a good time. I enjoyed Keeping the Bees, a Turkish-language drama (2019; 93minutes), but some bee-science was forgotten in the lab and the jars of thin honey was cringe-worthy. But the movie was good.

I don’t know how long Keeping the Bees has been playing on Netflix, but we caught it last night. I’ll try not to post spoilers, but here is a very brief synopsis. The central character (Ayse, in the photo above) returns to her village from Germany, where she had been working for ten years. Her mother is dying, which prompted her return, and indeed, the elderly lady dutifully checks out of the script in the first few minutes. But first, she bequeaths her apiary to Ayse. It’s not a good fit. Nor is the return of the bright and pretty young lady to her homeland.

There are some rather weird bee scenes, which are unforgivable from my perspective, but also some local bee lore (indigenous knowledge), which I fully appreciate, even knowing we can disprove some of it. The fact that Ayse imports an English queen to the apiary of Caucasian bees made me gasp. The local bees had resided and adapted to the environment of the Turkish Caucasus mountainside for thousands of years. Now comes the new British queen. Well, this, of course, is a major theme of the movie. You really can’t come home again. Or can you?

The film has gorgeous scenery, a fairly good script, excellent acting and directing. If you don’t understand Turkish, you’ll have to read the sparse dialogue, as I did. Look past the mistakes that the bees make along the way and enjoy the movie. It’s worth it.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He’s based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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