Rotten: Lawyers, Guns & Honey

I’m invariably cautious – even cynical – about beekeeping movies. But I just saw one that breaks the mold and restores faith in the potential for delivering a great story about the honey industry without lies and exaggeration.  The one-hour documentary Lawyers, Guns & Honey delivers. It’s one of the very few bee films which you can watch, learn from, and enjoy without getting irritated that the producers hadn’t done their homework.

I need to thank a regular reader of this blog, Susan, for suggesting this film. It apparently came out on Netflix yesterday (January 5). She had a few comments which I’ll share. Here’s Susan:

“It seemed to get most of the facts straight as I know them—the trans-shipping from China with falsified papers through other ports, the adulteration and contaminants, the sheer demand that can’t possibly be met by real bees, etc. It only shows the industrial side of the honey biz, with a side on the migratory pollinator biz, so innocent citizens might believe there is no other kind of honey out there except mostly the “warehouse blended”variety—which gets quite a long look. And there are NO women beeks shown—only a couple women in secretarial roles.”

I felt the same way upon watching the documentary. (Although, I have to add that one of the women was a high-power international sales rep who ended up in prison and the other is president of a large bee farm.  Like Susan, though, I didn’t actually see any women in bee yards.) Susan’s summary also touches on the one weakness in the documentary – the focus is on commercially handled honey, though there is a piece on Clint Walker’s farm where the audience gets a glimpse of honey made and sold locally by a beekeeper. However, the goal of the production was to explore global, industrial-scale honey activity.

Netflix describes the film as a look at “the new global honey business and largest food fraud investigation and prosecution in history — a scam known as Honeygate.”  There is much more – including bee thefts in California and the almond pollination business.  A lot is squeezed into one hour and a few things are left out, but the omissions don’t lessen the impact of this documentary.

Lawyers, Guns & Honey is an absolutely great film.  It’s well-researched and well-photographed, resulting in a compelling story. Watch it. If you have Netflix, the film is the first release in the new series “Rotten.”  It is on in the USA and here in Canada – hopefully in other countries as well.  I don’t give away accolades very often. This documentary deserves everyone’s attention. Recommend it to your friends.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a geophysicist who also does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with a popular blog at Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site:
This entry was posted in Beekeeping, Commercial Beekeeping, Culture, or lack thereof, Movies, Pollination, Save the Bees and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Rotten: Lawyers, Guns & Honey

  1. susan rudnicki says:

    Hey!! thanks for the kind words!


  2. susan rudnicki says:

    On a different topic, but one which I only recently became aware of—our state beekeeping federation, CSBA (CA State Beekeepers Assn) recently voted to avoid any further tightening of neonic usage in the state. They voted WITH Big Ag’s position that the chemicals are regulated enough. Some of my most valued contacts, especially Michele Colopy of the Pollinator Stewardship Council ( a lil bulldog of a org going to bat for beekeepers all the time) were stymied in their attempts to talk reason to the beek group. Multiple recent studies have confirmed nasty synergicity and persistence in the neonic group damaging bees and their colonies. I will copy you the letter I got back from the only person I know who belongs to CSBA and what I replied to him. It’s illuminating.


  3. Deb Corcoran says:

    I, too, watched this last night. The exposure of illegal imported honey was great. I wish it was front and center in the National news.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Erik says:

    We watched the show this morning, thanks for the suggestion! As you say, it was a good piece. I with they had talked about how to buy untainted honey. They never actually say this, and would have been a nice way to round out the story.

    Nice to see a company (Netflix) take on this type of reporting. Planning to watch the remaining episodes as well.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Deb Corcoran says:

      I think the label should state the Country of origen so beware of that. What I think is to buy local honey, best for everyone!


  5. greenoceangirl says:

    Thank you for the suggestion. One of our association members also recommended it, so I watched it this afternoon. It was a lot packed into the hour. As you said, it focused on its message, of criminal action within the honey business, but did little to show where and how to support honest honey producers. Makes me grateful to know what my girls are producing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Rotten: Lawyers, Guns & Honey | Beginner Beekeeper

  7. Susan says:

    Thank you for the recommendation of this documentary. I hadn’t heard of it before and thought that I seen all of the bee movies offered on Netflix.


  8. Sroyon says:

    Thank you for the recommendation, Ron! I watched it this week, and we are also planning to screen it for LSE Bees society members next month: a very different kind of offering from last year’s Black Mirror! I know at least one other person who watched the documentary after reading your blogpost. And the next episode, about food allergies, was also really good (I’m yet to watch the others).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      I’m so glad my post was useful! It’s easy to miss films (and news events) so I thought it might be helpful to mention it. (I would not have seen this film myself if not for one of my blog’s regular readers/commenters!) The documentary leaves a few important things out, but this is still one of the best I’ve seen on the beekeeping business.
      Meanwhile, I follow the LSE postings regularly and gain a lot from your group’s work!


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