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Middlebury College

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Program Name

Nepal: Development and Social Change

Abstract

Nepal is home to four native species of bees and as many methods to produce and gather their honey. In recent decades, several domestic and international organizations and governments have researched bee populations and provided financial and technical support through subsidies, trainings, and materials in efforts to conserve biodiversity and develop beekeeping in Nepal. However, little attention has been given to human-bee connections, the factors that shape them, and how they can provide a lens for understanding human-environmental relationships. Thereby, this study aims to exploring a selection of people’s experience with beekeeping and perspective of bees in order to illuminate geographically specific human-environmental relationships. Three case studies each focused on a different form of honey production/collection, namely box-hive beekeeping, log-hive beekeeping, and honey hunting were conducted in three locations of Western Nepal. Implications manifest in the data posit that what connects humans and bees in Western Nepal varies between unique environmental settings, from which and in which social and cultural values both emerge and are enacted. Factors such as knowledge, care and control of bees, viability of honey production, and value of and reliance on honey and bees shape human-bee relationships. Connections between people and bees reflect the geographic specificity and dynamic fluidity of human-environment relationships that in turn demonstrate pushes and pulls of changing cultural tides in Western Nepal.

Disciplines

Apiculture | Asian Studies | Biodiversity | East Asian Languages and Societies | Food Studies | Human Ecology | Place and Environment | Social and Cultural Anthropology

 

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