click to download Quicktime


Honeybee Blues tells the story of the world’s disappearing honeybees and the efforts of Australian scientist Dr Denis Anderson to save them from annihilation.

From the native bush and orchards of Australia to the industrial farmlands of the United States and the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Honeybee Blues is a scientific detective story that tells a 21st century cautionary tale.

The European honeybee, or Apis mellifera, is used for commercial honey production and by a global pollination industry worth up to $100 billion. Without it we would lose a third of the world’s food supply.

But honeybees are under threat from all directions. Industrial agriculture and habitat destruction have taken a toll but the biggest threat is a deadly parasitic mite which Anderson discovered and called Varroa destructor. It has decimated bee populations everywhere except Australia which is now the only country that still has European honeybees living in the wild. While in Papua New Guinea, Anderson discovers another lethal mite, Varroa jacobsoni, that adds to the threat to the world’s honeybees.

Denis Anderson believes the solution to eradicating the Varroa mite lies in the genes of the honeybee. He is trying to switch off the honeybee gene that tells the Varroa mite to reproduce. If he succeeds, he could save the last of the world’s wild European honeybees from extinction.

The film features observational sequences and interviews with biosecurity officers, bee exporters, pollinators and honey producers.

Combining macro photography of the insect world, a lively blues soundtrack and animation sequences, Honeybee Blues tracks the incredible journey of the world’s oldest domesticated animal and its predators around the globe.


A Screen Australia National Documentary Program and a Mitra Films production. Produced in association with the New South Wales Film and Television Office with assistance from the Melbourne Community Foundation and the Documentary Australia Foundation. Developed and produced in association with SBS. 2009 Screen Australia, New South Wales Film and Television Office and Mitra Films.



Photo Gallery

More about Honeybee Blues

See our other showcases



Stefan Moore


Anna Cater
Susan MacKinnon

Executive Producer

Susan MacKinnon


52 minutes



For Teachers
Curriculum links include Science (Agriculture, Biology), SOSE/HSIE, English and Media Studies.

Teachers notes


Press Kit
Press Kit


Related Links

Denis Anderson’s CSIRO profile


Winner - Director's Choice Award, 2010 Scinema Festival of Science Film Competition

Finalist - Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Science Journalism 2010

Finalist - Best Documentary, Science, Technology and the Environment, 2010 ATOM Awards