The Dancing Bees

A visual poem woven from a man’s love of beekeeping.

Cornish beekeeper Jo Widdicombe has been keeping bees for 50 years. Through a chance experience, Jo discovered the thought-extinct European Dark Honey Bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), and recultivated it back into its native Cornwall.

We take a snapshot into Jo’s thoughts and observations, highlighting issues such as the decline of pollinators, unsustainable environmental practices, and the passing down of his extensive knowledge of sustainable beekeeping.

Credits / Collaborators / Cast

Director: Gwilym Evans
DP: Sam Finney
Editor: Gwilym Evans
Colourist: Yago Hunt-Laudi
Sound Design and Mix: Luke Thompson
Poetry: Gwilym Evans
Voiceover: Jo Widdicombe
Titles: Guillaume Maurin-Belay
Film Lab – Frame24
Music: Phillip Glass – String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima” – VI. Mishima / Closing
Production Company: way out west.

The story behind the film

I was inspired to make this film by a chance interaction with a Beekeeper named Andrew Brown in a London hotel lift. He gave me an elevator pitch about Beekeeping and the decline of Apis mellifera mellifera, aka The Europen Dark Honey Bee. The reasons for this decline are the same as those for other pollinators, namely agricultural intensification, agricultural chemicals, and the reduction in wildflower diversity. He explained the native honey bee is also under threat from non-native honey bees. As well as bringing in novel pests and diseases, these imported honey bees cross-breed with the native dark honey bees and dilute their genetic local adaptations.

We stayed in contact and I was invited to his Farm in Cornwall to film various interviews with sustainable Beekeepers. I interviewed Jo Widdicombe who has been keeping bees for 50 years. I was fascinated by Jo’s story and came back the next summer with DP Sam Finney to create a standalone film that revolves around Jo.


Genre: Documentary
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Length in minutes: 2
YEAR: 2024