Cinema Detroit and Detroit Hives celebrate bees with help from a Nicolas Cage cult classic

"Oh no! Not the bees!" If you're not up on your Nicolas Cage memes, this snippet of dialogue is screamed by the actor in a scene from 2006's "The Wicker Man." It's one of his more buzzworthy cinematic moments, at least in terms of social media sharing.

It also explains the name of the event "Yes, The Bees!," which is happening Sunday in Detroit and includes a movie and a field trip illustrating the importance of bees to all living things.

Cinema Detroit is hosting this bee-dazzling journey that will begin with a screening of "The Wicker Man," a moody thriller that involves a scary mystery on a small rural island filled with creaky barns, cursed crops and an eye-popping ritual that rival 2019's eerie "Midsommar."

"The Wicker Man" is considered a classic among Cage's numerous guilty-pleasure flicks, so expect some rather inaccurate depictions of bees engaged in what might be called Cage matches.

After the film, the real world of bees will be explored during a presentation by Timothy Paule Jackson and Nicole Lindsey of Detroit Hives, their nonprofit venture devoted to helping create sustainable communities by turning vacant lots into inviting spaces for bees and pollinators.

Then comes the day's most innovative part — a visit to Detroit Hives and an exclusive tour with round-trip bus transportation.

Bee there or bee ... never mind.

Co-founder Timothy Jackson weeds the garden at Detroit Hives.
Co-founder Timothy Jackson weeds the garden at Detroit Hives.

"Yes, The Bees!" is the third Science on Screen presentation held by Cinema Detroit, which this year joined the nearly 100 theaters nationwide participating in the initiative from the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Massachusetts and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It creatively combines films with presentations by experts in science and technology.

In April, Cinema Detroit showed 2016's "The Nice Guys," starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe and featuring a plot involving catalytic converters. The screening included a presentation by a veteran engineer who discussed future sustainability in the auto industry.

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Then in May, the theater paired 2013's "A Birder's Guide to Everything," a coming-of-age story about bird watchers starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, with a talk on birds common to Detroit by Feral Detroit founder and nature advocate Melissa McLeod.

Cinema Detroit co-owner Paula Guthat, who chose the movies and themes of the three Science on Screen events, says the point is using mainstream, commercially driven movies as a way to address important environmental issues.

"At its best, film is entertaining, but it’s also thought-provoking. I’m hoping these programs at least provoke thought and hopefully provoke action because each one offers action items that people could do to help the environment," she says.

"The Wicker Man" is a nice fit for Cinema Detroit, which goes way back with Detroit's annual (and lovingly irreverent) Nicolas UnCaged festival and which was a beneficiary of this year's gala UnCaged fundraiser at the Senate Theater.

For Detroit Hives, joining forces with the independent Cinema Detroit is an inventive way to spread awareness of their mission, which already has gained national media attention and earned the group a Spirit of Detroit award.

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According to Jackson, it was a nagging cold in the winter of 2016 that introduced him to the benefits of local raw honey and sparked an interest that led him and his fiancee, Nicole Lindsey, to buy a vacant lot in 2017 and launch an urban bee farm.

Since then, Detroit Hives has conducted more than 800 educational tours and currently manages more than 50 honeybee colonies in the area. It's doing it while also being committed to the multiple goals of revitalizing economically challenged neighborhoods and improving their food security, shifting the city's narrative to a positive theme and spreading awareness of why bees — whose populations have plummeted in recent years — are so vital to the food chain.

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Co-founders Timothy Jackson, 37, of Detroit and Nicole Lindsey, 38, of Detroit, weed the garden at the Detroit Hives Brightmoor Pollinator Habitat in Detroit on July 28, 2021. Detroit Hives is expecting five volunteers from Share Detroit, a 501c3 nonprofit created to support all other nonprofits across metro Detroit by connecting volunteers and resources.

"What we do as part of our mission is we work to improve underserved communities to benefit both people and pollinators. ... It’s about impact from the inside out in our community. We’re Detroiters creating real change," says Jackson.

Jackson describes bees as being "often misunderstood." Sometimes they get a bad rap from Hollywood productions like "The Swarm," a 1978 Irwin Allen disaster movie that depicted killer bees wiping out small cities. Other times, people don't like them because they confuse bees with types of wasps like hornets or yellow jackets.

What Jackson wants people to realize is that Michigan is home to more than 450 kinds of bees that are native to the state that live side by side with us in peace. "Most people are surrounded by and coexist with 467 native bee species," he says.

More than 450 varieties of bees are native to Michigan.
More than 450 varieties of bees are native to Michigan.

As for "The Wicker Man," it's about a cop (Nicolas Cage) who is summoned to help find the missing daughter of his former fiancee, who lives on a small island, Summerisle off Washington state. The community is run by women who address one another as "sister," dress in old-timey clothes and hold rituals about death and rebirth.

The island's main source of income seems to be honey, which is produced in hives that are laid out in a maze-like pattern that Cage runs through in desperation.  Did we mention his character is allergic to bees? You get the idea.

"The Wicker Man," a remake of a 1973 movie, was written and directed by Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men"), who was born in Detroit and grew up in Spokane, Washington. Although it was a flop at the box office, it since has earned cult status for its generally engrossing plot and, especially, Cage's intense, over-the-top emoting.

Especially notorious is the "Not the bees!" torture scene that involves — spoiler alert! — Cage having a close encounter with some bees while wearing a mesh helmet over his head. That scene was cut from the theatrical release, but thanks to the DVD and YouTube, it has become essential for Cage fans.

Earlier this year, IndieWire wrote that Cage recently spoke about how he and LaBute were in on the joke of "The Wicker Man" at the time: "I know people had fun with that, even if they thought the comedy was not intentional. I’m going on record right now: That is not a fact. Neil and I both knew how funny it was."

But could they have guessed it would eventually be part of an educational experience?  If this field trip goes well, you never know. There could be a "Please, More Bees" in Cinema Detroit's future.

Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie HInds at

'Yes, The Bees!'

Film screening of "The Wicker Man" followed by a presentation and field trip to Detroit Hives

2-5:30 p.m. Sun.

Cinema Detroit

4126 Third Ave., Detroit

$25 (round-trip bus transportation included)

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Cinema Detroit, Detroit Hives using horror film to raise bee awareness