For more than a century, the island of Timor has been divided by a colonial border. This border has displaced and separated the people of Lookeu, dividing their land, water and history. Timor’s migratory wild honey bees challenge this division. Their migrations are essential to the agricultural and spiritual wellbeing of the people and places who depend upon them.
In community honey harvest rituals, queen bees are courted in ceremony by men who climb high into the canopy to sing nocturnal forest love songs. These songs express gratitude to the bees, enticing and imploring them to give up their sweetness and maintain their seasonal visits.
This film is the outcome of a long-term collaboration between researchers Balthasar Kehi and Lisa Palmer and the people of Balthasar’s homeland of Lookeu. It portrays a border community who, despite changing farming practices and increasing commodification, are determined to maintain the bees’ movement across the region and preserve their shared identity.
Director and photographer - Lisa Palmer
With thanks and respect to the community of Lookeu
Produced with support from the Australian Research Council, the University of Melbourne and RMIT.