Beekeepers’ knowledges and participation in pollinator conservation policy

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  • Siobhan Maderson
    Dept of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University
  • Sophie Wynne-Jones
This paper considers the potential for beekeepers' knowledges to be incorporated into participatory policy processes addressing current challenges to pollinator health. Pollinator decline is a serious issue for future food security and wider environmental resilience, with important implications for rural land use governance. The precipitous decline in global pollinator populations over recent years has resulted in a range of government initiatives to tackle the causes identified. In the UK this includes a National Pollinator Strategy in England and Pollinator Action Plan in Wales. These plans are notable for their introduction of a more participatory approach, incorporating ‘lay-knowledge’ and citizen science from beekeeping practitioners alongside scientific data. This paper presents evidence from interviews and participant observation with key stakeholders within the beekeeping community in the UK, alongside archival material from the Bee Farmers' Association, to assess the knowledge controversies arising from this strategy. Specifically, the paper considers the distinction of beekeepers' knowledges from typically acknowledged expert sources, whilst also reflecting upon aspects of plurality and tension within the beekeeping community. The paper concludes by outlining some areas of contestation between beekeepers and the wider policy and scientific community, which could impact on the future success of more participatory forums. This includes, firstly, evidence of hierarchies and exclusions in the forms of knowledge considered, when insights from professional scientists are privileged above those from beekeepers and when some beekeepers knowledges are given more credit than others. Secondly, we consider limitations resulting from policy makers' evidence requirements for peer-reviewed science, which can further exacerbate the exclusion of beekeepers' insights and lead to scenarios whereby policy only engages with a narrow set of criteria that may not be beneficial when advanced in isolation from the broader system changes. Finally, aspects of policy clash are outlined between pollinator conservation and wider agricultural strategies that seek to maintain a productivist agenda.

Keywords

  • Diverse Expertise, Knowledge controversies, Participatory governance, Citizen science, Beekeeping, Pollinator health
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-98
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Volume45
Issue numberJune 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2016

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