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U. of I. entomology department swarms to 'Bee Movie'

Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor
217-333-5802; diya@illinois.edu

11/2/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — What do entomologists do on autumn weekends? This Sunday the University of Illinois department of entomology is going to see an animated insect film: “Bee Movie,” starring Jerry Seinfeld and Renée Zellweger.

“Our department is so involved in bee-related issues that it just seemed like a natural thing to take the whole department and go see the movie,” said department head May Berenbaum. “I thought it would be fun for a bunch of entomologists to watch this movie.”

Berenbaum is a long-time aficionado of insect films. In 1984 she launched the “Insect Fear Film Festival” at the university. This annual event, entering its 25th year, explores how insects are portrayed in movies – from the giant, killer grasshoppers in Bert I. Gordon’s 1957 thriller, “The Beginning of the End,” to the animated half-human, half-cockroach teacher in “The Ultimate Teacher,” who knows how to handle the kids in the toughest high school in Tokyo.

Illinois is at the forefront of bee-related research, and has been involved from the beginning in the successful push to sequence the honey bee genome, completed last year, as well as in current efforts to identify the factors causing a national decline of honey bees and other pollinating insects. Berenbaum was called on to testify before Congress on honey bee “colony collapse disorder,” and she chaired the National Research Council committee that reported this year on the status of pollinators in North America. Her department also launched the Beespotter Web site, which recruits citizen scientists to send in data about wild bees in Illinois.

More than 70 people associated with the department have signed up for the private screening at 8 a.m. on Sunday (Nov. 4) at the Savoy 16 Theater, 232 Burwash Ave., in Savoy, Ill.