Rooted in global pollinator decline and challenges to food security and biodiversity, my thesis examines the traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) of beekeepers, and how this can be better utilised to support environmental sustainability. Preliminary research carried out during my MSc found that beekeepers hold very high levels of knowledge of pollinator health, as well as wider agricultural and environmental conditions. This knowledge was frequently ahead of mainstream understandings of such conditions, and reflected beekeepers’ long-term, intimate working knowledge of bees and the wider environment. Recent years have seen the rise of a range of policy initiatives to address pollinator decline; many discuss the need for a participatory approach to policy formation, and the importance of engaging with beekeepers. Wider work in the social sciences has highlighted potential challenges to such engagement, due to differing epistemologies, value systems, and the prioritisation of scientific research over other forms of understanding. The role of Citizen Science in gathering information on environmental change, and monitoring our ecosystems, is increasingly important. My research explores the environmental benefits of deeper engagement with beekeepers, as their long-term, intimate engagement with bees and their surrounding ecosystem develops unique, rich knowledge of the environment.
Start date:October 2015
Research Topic:The Traditional Environmental Knowledge of Beekeepers’ Civil Society Organisations: A Charter for Environmental Sustainability?
Research pathway:Human Geography
Research Supervisor:Prof Mike Woods; Dr Mitch Rose (Aberystwyth University); Dr Sophie Wynne Jones (Bangor University)
Supervising school:Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University
Primary funding source:ESRC Studentship