The life and death of bees in an emerging knowledge for sustainability
Exploring the ‘Animal Turn’: Changing perspectives on human-animal relations in science, society and culture
The following text addresses the ecological and cultural significance of the threats affecting the honey-bee, and which are becoming apparent through the unusual and sometimes drastic death rates of bee colonies. General research conducted on this problem largely agrees that the threats to bees are a syndrome that has a multifactorial nature and anthropogenic origin. In face of a plethora of relevant and intertwined human-ecological dimensions involved in the problem, this article is mainly concerned in developing a critical review of the scientific knowledge being produced and that concerns and impacts the honey-bee. This approach entails identifying and discussing its cognitive and ethical categories and its ramifications and influence into nature conservation. Results indicate that in the conservation of the honey-bee, scientific knowledge plays a fundamental role in defining what the problems are, as well as their scale and their degree of urgency. Moreover, science holds the greatest legitimacy in informing policy and consequent implementation of protective or harmful measures. Scientific research also has a large influence on modern apiculture, by defining “good” beekeeping practices and supplying technologies to ensure production and survival of colonies. Further results reveal that this arena of research is dominated by natural and STEM fields of science. Additionally, it runs under a paradigm that is mostly centred in a dichotomized and utilitarian viewpoint of human-nature relationships and a preference for technical solutions. The concluding stage of this text argues for a transition towards a new modality of knowledge production which works under strong transdisciplinarity and includes social learning. It emphasises a science for sustainability that is able to integrate a social-ecological understanding of the value of bees as the world’s common good, together with a social praxis that effectively promotes sustainable change.
honey-bee collapse; nature conservation; science; transdisciplinarity