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25 Years

"Honey bee health and industrial agriculture"

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 12:00pm
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Presented by Maggie Shanahan, Department of Entomology

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When honey bee researchers talk about honey bee health, we usually start by describing this problem: honey bee health is precarious, and colony losses occur at unsustainable rates. We then explain that colony loss has negative consequences for U.S. agriculture, the food supply, and global food security. This is the narrative that shapes most of the articles we write, the grants we apply for, and the actions we take to support honey bee health. However, there are a couple of problems with this framing. Most notably, it positions industrial agriculture as the victim of unsustainable colony loss, and not as the cause. In this talk, I argue that when honey bee researchers fail to account for the impacts of industrial agriculture, we undercut our research efforts and lend further support to an unsustainable status quo. I explore possible steps towards reframing our research and discuss the uncomfortable questions that surface when we make this change.