Beekeepers’ Beecomings and the Agency of a Bee
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Galiński, J. (2022). Beekeepers’ Beecomings and the Agency of a Bee. Etnografia Polska, 66(1-2), 143–158.


The limits of non-human agency are still a highly disputed topic in the humanities and social sciences. This paper is a case study of the relationship between Polish beekeepers and bees, based on data collected during two and a half years of participant observation and conducting ethnographic interviews. I suggest that bees have an immense amount of agency in their contact with humans. Bees shape people in their image in the process of bee-coming, thus influencing the way they think, speak, and behave. Moreover, bees have a great deal of autonomy when it comes to the inner architecture and politics of the hive. A significant means of manifesting bees’ agency is that of stinging. Stinging is a direct message to the human, a way of signaling the bees’ needs and feelings. Surprisingly, in this relationship between insects and humans, the insect has the upper hand.


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Prawa autorskie (c) 2022 Etnografia Polska