The Heirloom Seed Exposition

“The beauty of the seed is out of one you can get millions. The beauty of the pollinator is it turns that one into the million and that’s an economics of sharing. That’s to me the real economics of growth because life is growing.” – Dr. Vandana Shiva, from “Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?”


Earlier this fall, we were honored to be one of the featured films at the first national Heirloom Seed Exposition held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California. This was a spectacular three-day event bringing together farmers, gardeners, and eco-enthusiasts from all over the world to promote the sustainable cultivation of genetically pure seeds. Heirloom plants come from seeds that are naturally reproduced, openly pollinated, and handed down from generation to generation; this cycle of growth and rebirth is dependent upon pollinators like bees, and the bees in turn depend upon this biodiversity of flora, creating an essential partnership that keeps the earth in balance.

Over 2,000 heirloom varieties of vibrantly colored flowers, fruits, and vegetables were featured at the Expo, and each day was filled with vendors, lectures, art exhibits, and activities surrounding the cause. Keynote speakers at the event included Alice Waters, chef of Chez Panisse and advocate of locally-grown ingredients, as well as Dr. Vandana Shiva, well-known eco-activist who appears in Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? and has introduced the film at past screenings. Dr. Shiva’s speech addresses the rise of corporations such as Monsanto, misconceptions about the food industry, and the vast benefits achieved by ecological farming. You can listen to clips of her speech here.

With the theme of the Expo surrounding natural plant reproduction, the role of bees was an inevitable facet of the conversation. Scientists have confirmed that there are many factors that contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder and the decline of honey bees, but many problems can be traced back to large GMO organizations and commercially farmed monocrops. Due to modern agriculture’s focus on genetically engineered clones for mass production, bees are subject to pesticide contamination, lack of consistent food supply, and careless beekeeping practices among many other plights.

Dr. Vandana Shiva

The Heirloom Seed Exposition was a great opportunity to demonstrate the importance of returning to a world of biodiverse food sources. If we ever hope to reverse the catastrophic pattern of bee decline, we must support the growth of organically cultivated plants from pure heirloom seeds. We were so grateful to be a part of this inspiring platform; not only are heirloom seeds good for the planet, but their produce is often healthier and more delicious, too. To support biodiversity is to help the bees, and we can’t wait to be part of the second annual Expo next year!

October 30, 2011  |  No Comments

Host A Community Screening

This is a key time of year to consider the importance of biodiversity and sustainability in our communities. Fruits and vegetables are being harvested and flowering plants are preparing for winter; this is the season when people work together to reap the earth’s bounty and appreciate the beautiful array of flavors, colors, and nutrients that keep us healthy. Here at Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?, we hope that the spirit of harvest also reminds people that this diversity would not exist without the bees. They are an essential link in the agricultural cycle, and as they continue to disappear at alarming rates, the need to spread awareness about the causes and solutions to Colony Collapse Disorder becomes increasingly urgent.

One way you can be a part of this effort is to host a Community Screening of the film in your home or in a public venue in your area. Hosting a screening is a great opportunity to bring people together to celebrate and support honey bee health and sustainable agriculture. It’s easy to do with a little planning, and there are many options as to what size and type of event works best for your community. There may be a local organization that would be interested in partnering on the project, whether it be offering a venue or promoting the screening through grassroots efforts. Past hosts have worked with a wide range of groups from beekeepers’ associations to conservationists to farmers’ markets. You could even set up a projector outdoors in a park, a college campus, or someone’s backyard!

If you’d prefer a smaller gathering of people to enjoy Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us? in a more intimate setting, you could show the film in your home and augment it with a discussion group or a honey tasting after the film. To take a more educational approach, consider holding a screening at a public library or auditorium and inviting a beekeeper, farmer, or scientist to give a keynote introduction. It is up to you how you would like your event to run, and if you are in need of funding, you could charge an admission, ask for donations, or even hold a fundraiser leading up to the screening.

Whatever you decide, you will be creating a forum to share this important story and to start the conversation in your community about global solutions to this critical issue. Please go to “Host a Screening” under the “Screenings” header for more information about getting started. We look forward to working with you, and thanks for helping the bees from all of us here at Queen of the Sun!

October 8, 2011  |  No Comments

August 20th is National Honeybee Awareness Day

Members of the ‘Queen of the Sun’ hive here in Portland are excited for National Honey Bee Awareness Day, happening today, August 20th. Today is the perfect opportunity to spread the message about honey bee decline to a broader audience, as well as to celebrate the many amazing ways that bees contribute to our lives and to the environment.

We commend the many beekeepers and bee activists who are using this day as a platform to host events that honor the bees! Many of these events aim to increase awareness and promote solutions to this global crisis while also sharing the bountiful products of the honey bees’ hard work.

In Los Angeles, you are invited to truly become one with the bees by dressing up as a bee (or a beekeeper!) to meet fellow bee-lovers at the Mar Vista Public Library for a fun and educational afternoon. (Learn More.)

Across the country, the Nixon County Park in Pennsylvania is the site for a day full of bee-centric activities, starting with a Family Bee Adventure featuring crafts, stories, and outdoor games followed by a honey tasting at noon and a lecture on Beekeeping basics. (Learn More.)

And in Fort Myers, Florida you will find a delightful array of artisan bee products from wax candles to tropical fruit to bee-inspired gifts at the Bee Awareness Day event at Terry Park. It will also feature beekeeping demonstrations, honey contests, and raffle prizes – a real bee carnival! (Learn More.)

These are just a few of the exciting ways people are getting involved on this important day. Why not make expand the day to National Honeybee Awareness Week (or month for that matter!) and plan something of your own. It could be a small get-together with a few friends where everyone brings a dish showcasing local honey, or you could visit an organic farm to see what it’s really like in the world of beekeeping; or today you could even just wear black and yellow in solidarity with the bees! Whatever you decide, please join us in paying tribute to nature’s most essential pollinators.

Have fun, and happy Honey Bee Awareness Day!

August 20, 2011  |  No Comments

“Revelatory” – QUEEN receives The New York Times Critic’s Pick

QUEEN OF THE SUN opens today at Cinema Village in New York City! Don’t miss the 7 PM screenings during opening weekend with special Q&As by Director Taggart Siegel. The week is also packed with a line-up of great organizations that will be at the screenings for Q&As and introductions ranging from New York League of Conservation Voters and Manhattan Green Party to Audubon Society, Green Thumb NYC, Slow Food NYC, Grow NYC and many more! If you live in the city, be sure to make it out this week to see the film.

Click Here for Showtimes.

What the press is saying about QUEEN OF THE SUN:


“…Siegel buzzes around the globe and deep into the hive… Honey has never looked so delicious. Or so precious.”

- Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times, Critic’s Pick


-New York Daily News


- The New York Post


“…to nature’s underappreciated pollinators — whose existence has come under threat…making a sunny and optimistic case for why the world is worth saving, via gorgeous imagery and poetic appreciations of the bees themselves. “

- Ian Buckwalter,


“One of the most beautifully filmed documentaries that I’ve ever seen.”

-Hollywood Report Card


“…a lovely balance between scientific explanation and emotional advocacy…rich subject matter and persuasive presentation make this visually appealing nature documentary worth buzzing about.”

- David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“Visually sumptuous…lovingly shot, near-psychedelic imagery, which serves as an unusually visceral reminder of the rich variety in nature—and what’s at stake if bees bug out for good.”

- Village Voice


- Spirituality and Practice

“The film wows us with its objects of study at work that it creates a sensual awareness of our primary relationship with the bees.”

-Slant Magazine


- Current

June 10, 2011  |  News, Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Queen of the Sun receives IDA Pare Lorentz Award, Honorable Mention

Written by Jon Betz

Traveling down to L.A. to the IDA Awards (held at the DGA Theater) was a huge honor last Friday evening. Both Taggart and I donned our sport jackets (a rarity) and were proud to both attend the Awards Ceremony and to receive the Pare Lorentz Award, Honorable Mention (!) for Queen of The Sun. Nominees for the Pare Lorentz Award in past years have included such well-known films as The Cove, Food Inc. & Garbage Warrior.

It was hugely meaningful to be recognized among the ranks of such praised filmmakers as Lucy Walker with her Best Documentary and Pare Lorentz Winner “Waste Land”, Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA) who received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Alan & Susan Raymond, whose ground-breaking television series “An American Family” made waves and pre-dated the first reality TV. It also didn’t hurt to have the awards interspersed by the host for the evening, Supersize Me‘s hilarious Morgan Spurlock, whose stand-up comedy and ad-lib kept the audience laughing.

One thing I don’t think either of us expected is how inspiring the ceremony would be for both of us. Speeches by Joe Berlinger, whose legal battles with his film “Crude”, have protected the first amendment rights of all documentary filmmakers really brought to my attention the responsibility we have as documentarians in a world where modern news media sometimes has too many corporate interests invested to tell the whole truth.

Other speeches, such as those given by the filmmakers of “Presumed Guilty”, a film about the Mexican justice system which is exposing for the first time to the people of Mexico the way the justice system actually works there (I’ll give you a hint, not like it works on “Law & Order”) proved again that documentaries can truly create change at both the grassroots and political level–something we’re eager to do as well with Queen of the Sun.

A huge thank you to the IDA and IDA Jury Members for selecting Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? We’re bursting at the seams. And also our gratitude to everyone who has supported Queen of the Sun so far. We’ll keep you posted for many screenings coming up this spring. Don’t be shy to contact us if you want to help be an agent of change for the bees. We need your help!

December 7, 2010  |  No Comments