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Beeconomy: What Women and Bees Can Teach Us about Local Trade and the Global Market

Tammy Horn
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Queen bee. Worker bees. Busy as a bee. These phrases have shaped perceptions of women for centuries, but how did these stereotypes begin? Who are the women who keep bees and what can we learn from them? Beeconomy examines the fascinating evolution of the relationship between women and bees around the world. From Africa to Australia to Asia, women have participated in the pragmatic aspects of honey hunting and in the more advanced skills associated with beekeeping as hive technology has advanced through the centuries.

    Synthesizing the various aspects of hive-related products, such as beewax and cosmetics, as well as the more specialized skills of queen production and knowledge-based economies of research and science, noted bee expert Tammy Horn documents how and why women should consider being beekeepers. The women profiled in the book suggest ways of managing careers, gender discrimination, motherhood, marriage, and single-parenting -- all while enjoying the community created by women who work with honey bees. Horn finds in beekeeping an opportunity for a new sustainable economy, one that takes into consideration environment, children, and family needs.

    Beeconomy not only explores globalization, food history, gender studies, and politics; it is a collective call to action.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3436-9
    Subjects: Zoology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Piping Up
    (pp. 1-12)

    I have been asked, why write a book about women and bees? The subtext of the question is that we surely do notneeda book about women beekeepers. Nor do I offer any new beekeeping secrets. I am certainly not the best writer on this topic, and neither is my gender considered adequate qualification.

    But, with the United States losing one in every three hives of honey bees and Central Europe losing one in four, more women should consider keeping bees.¹ If we have more beekeepers, regardless of gender, perhaps the immediate crisis of bee loss will be addressed...

  6. Africa: The Garden of Plenty
    (pp. 13-36)

    A blowtorch focuses its flame on me as I walk across the windy airport tarmac: that is how Johannesburg feels. The safari leader, Keith Chisnall, asks me why I have come to South Africa. I am a beekeeper, I answer. I have an atavistic desire to be in the cradle where bees evolved.

    Iʹm not here to see baby elephants or lions. Giraffes and zebras wonʹt cut it. Even though I am traveling with a group of birders, I am a problem child when it comes to playing by their rules in their jeep.

    The former special opportunity commander of...

  7. India: The Heart of the World
    (pp. 37-52)

    Indiaʹs plethora of honey bees, its honey-hunting history, and its diverse faith-based religions have imprinted women primarily through artistic, literary, and femininity rituals such as bridal and maternal rites of passage. There are four overlapping areas in which women have been shaped by or are in the process of shaping Indiaʹs contemporary bee culture: the honey-hunting cultures; the Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals; the British practices and assumptions under colonialism; and emerging opportunities for Indiaʹs women beekeepers in a new global economy.

    A number of adivasi native populations, such as the Badaga, Kurumba, Kota, and Toda peoples, still practice traditional...

  8. Asia: A Peaceful Renaissance
    (pp. 53-84)

    Although much about women and beekeeping remains shrouded in mystery, we know Asia was the first continent to correlate honey bees with goddesses and icons. Since Asia is the largest land mass in the world, it had diverse theologies that created divinities such as the ancient bee goddesses Artemis and Hannahanna in Asia Minor and Hitam Manis in South Asia. Much later, these goddesses would make way for three major monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that would flower in the Middle East and spread their ideas about bees and women around the world. Given the diverse theologies in Asia,...

  9. Europe: A Bridge of Honey Bees
    (pp. 85-146)

    Europe has the most consistent, readily transparent, and best-documented history of women beekeepers when compared to the areas discussed in previous chapters. The process of tracking the societal transfers of bee analogies has been easier. As economies, theocracies, and social policies ebbed and flowed, the bee-related values first ascribed to women by the Hittite culture flowed west to Greece and Europe and later coexisted with northern Europeʹs iconic bee goddesses.

    The highly gendered principles that emphasized a feminine landscape capable of providing for people were rooted in male fantasies of a golden age. In ancient Greek writersʹ visions of alternative...

  10. North America: The Great Experiment, Part 1. Deputy Husbands, True Women, Honey Hunters, and Inventresses
    (pp. 147-192)

    Unlike the continents discussed in previous chapters, North America does not have an ancient honey-hunting tradition. The lack of Native American female bee goddesses stands in stark contrast to the bee-centric stories, songs, or prayers in other cultures. North America once had a native honey bee, until the Miocene Epoch cooled the continent considerably, severely affecting habitat. Although the honey bee went extinct approximately twenty-five million years ago, other pollinators such as solitary and semi-social bees thrived in the ensuing different regions, such as deserts, the Appalachians, the Rockies, and the Great Plains.¹ The European honey beeApis mellifera mellifera...

  11. North America: The Great Experiment, Part 2. Women Beekeepers in Industrial Agriculture
    (pp. 193-274)

    In his bookThe Fruits of Natural Advantage: Making the Industrial Countryside in California, scholar Steven Stoll suggests that five factors merged to create a highly industrialized agricultural landscape in North America at the turn of the twentieth century: unique land conditions, university research and extension, innovative farmers and orchard growers, an independent yet inextricable relationship between farmers and the federal government, and a solid hierarchy between owners and laborers that generally divided along class and racial lines.¹ All of these factors played into a general agricultural trend in the United States to specialize in monocultural crops. Yet, invisible in...

  12. Australasia: A Cornelian Continent
    (pp. 275-294)

    Honey bees are not native to Australia, and from its inception as a penal colony in the late seventeenth century, the English arrivals to the country were never charged with that Christian ideal of creating a land of milk and honey. There were no ancient iconic goddesses as with Asia or cave drawings of honey hunts as with Europe, India, or Africa. Yet honey bees did well in Australia if they were able to survive the difficult oceanic journey. Because England imposed a powerful cultural template on Australia and New Zealand, Australian women beekeepers had conventional feminine paradigms within which...

  13. South America: The Continent of Tomorrow
    (pp. 295-314)

    South America brings this book full circle. South America was the first continent to undergo a cultural and biological revolution through the human-assisted migration of African honey bees. The introduction of the African honey bee,Apis mellifera scutellata, to South America in 1956 has made South America a type of ʺobservation hiveʺ in more ways than one. As the world watched the northward advance of African honey bees, a generation of women researchers and beekeepers witnessed two shifts from the grassroots level: the honey bee displacing native bees, and the emergence of womenʹs equity issues.

    Although South America was the...

  14. Conclusion: Counting for Nothing
    (pp. 315-318)

    The Greeks once worshipped two gods of time: Chronos and Kairos. Chronos came to be associated with linear, measurable time; the word ʺchronologyʺ is our best-known, most widely used etymological reference to this god. For most of us, chronological time is all we have ever known. It was the only form of time taught in my school. As I negotiated a career, I followed its ʺforced marchʺ toward academic success: college, a graduate program, a doctorate. Its rhythm was a regulated walk away from my farming background, unpredictable weather patterns, and uninsulated farmhouses.

    This march came to a screeching halt...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 319-336)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 337-354)
  17. Index
    (pp. 355-376)