Hum of the Hive

Negotiating Conflict between Humans and Honeybee towards an Ecological City

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 Department of Geography, Trinity College Dublin
  • 2 National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University

A contestation is underway in Australian cities between humans and the European honeybee, which has heightened in recent years as amateur beekeeping has emerged in response to environmental concerns. This paper reports on a brief ethnographic encounter among old and new amateur beekeepers located across Sydney, Australia. Older beekeepers were motivated mainly by a desire for a social hobby, whereas younger apiarists were attracted by the role bees play in addressing environmental concerns, including biodiversity, food self-sufficiency, and greening the city. However, the amateur beekeeper appears to be at risk from a series of conflicts: among themselves (registered and unregistered keepers), and with commercial keepers and suburban residents. These conflicts undermine the novel role that amateur beekeepers, with their distinct methods and perspectives, play in fostering biodiversity, health, and sustainability towards the ecological city.

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