“MOST people are vaguely aware that we need to save the bees, but they don’t know precisely why,” film producer Michael Jackson, 43, told the Olive Press.
The Brit, who heads up Berkshire-based production company Ambanja, was browsing the news earlier in the year when a story by this newspaper came before his eyes.
“I saw the Olive Press news story and the thing that drew me in was the headline that 47 million bees are to be released in Malaga. And so I did a bit more research.”
His investigations led the Reading native to Paola Vecino, who leads the Smart Green Bee project in Spain that is working to re-populate the country with as many Iberian honeybees as there are people.
“Or, in other words, 900 beehives,” Vecino said. “Our lives depend on the bees.”
With this discovery, Jackson decided to make a short film on the subject as a passion project.
Vecino was one of the first to recognise the connection between Spain’s biodiversity crisis and its overproduction of single-crop plants that don’t produce pollen for the bees to consume.
“And, once you lose the bees, everything else seems to fall away,” Jackson explained. “From there, it’s a tipping point.”
“Without the bees, flowers die out, which kills off the insects that birds and lizards feed on, and it works all the way up the food chain until you get to us.”
Bee specialist Vecino chose to focus on the Iberian honey bee because, as a native species, it has evolved to be able to pollinate the flowers that grow naturally in Spain.
With a small crew of filmmakers, Jackson joined Vecino and her team on 12-day odyssey across Andalucia to film the process of nurturing the many hives of Iberian honeybees.
“We started out in Colmenar, which is known for its beekeeping and in fact its name comes from the Spanish word for ‘bee hive’,” the producer said.
“And then we drove over to Cutar and Comares, and stopped in Torrox, then we drove across the beautiful agricultural landscape to Alhaurín el Grande via Malaga.
“Our experience in Andalucia was fantastic – the people were so friendly, everyone was happy to help us,” Jackson marvelled.
“The roads were brilliant, too, you can pretty much drive everywhere. Yes, Spain’s a lovely place to work.”
Jackson hopes that his film can help spread the word on the importance of Spain’s bees.
“Sometimes I think we don’t quite realise how important they are and how fragile our ecosystems really are.”